15 Aug 2021
Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) is the national body representing Australian sheep producers. Mr Chris Mirams has been SPA’s Independent Chair for the past four years, and with his term now concluding SPA is looking to recruit.
SPA’s mission is to be a well-resourced and professional organisation, to provide reputable strategic and high-level technical advice on behalf of sheep producers to government and industry service providers to position the Australian sheep industry for future success.
Chris’s background is extensive in agricultural and governance experience, he has a unique ability to be just as comfortable in the stock yards on farm as in a suit at a board table or advocating for policy change in Parliament House. Chris is also currently a director of the Red Meat Advisory Council (Chair Audit and Risk), North East Water Corporation (Finance and Audit and Opportunity and Risk Committees), Sheep Industry Health and Welfare Trust, Sheep Industry Sustainability Framework and a member of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation Advisory Panel.
Chris’s previous experience in Board roles is as a past director of Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Integrity Systems Company, MLA Donor Company, Scots School Albury, Chair Holbrook Landcare Network, Chair EverGraze and Deputy Chair Alpine Valley Community Leadership.
Chris is currently a farm management consultant, following a 30 year hands-on career in farm management, including managing iconic grazing property Woomargama Station for 20 years and chairing national farming systems research project EverGraze for eight years.
“I started off as a Jackaroo, with long days in the saddle and plenty to learn. I quickly learnt to say yes when an opportunity came along and love the fact that in farming, everyone is so open to share information and knowledge and to help each other grow.”
“My special and strong interest is and always has been in research and development, farmer education and the adoption of new technologies on farm. Having been a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program I particularly enjoy bringing out the best in individuals and organisations.”
Chris is an advocate of further education and has a Diploma in Financial Markets, Diploma in Farm Management, and is a graduate of the AICD Company Directors course.
“As my career progressed, I had to learn new skills to be able to contribute effectively to each new working environment. We are really lucky to have such great resources and industry mentors.”
Chris has been able to bring his values, passion for agriculture and leadership skills, along with knowledge in governance, finance, research and development and farming systems to help SPA develop and grow to be a strong and trusted voice for sheep advocacy, a voice of the producer and to look at sustainable farming practices to secure the future for the sheep industry.
SPA has undertaken transformational change over the past four years, moving from a representative governance model to a skills-based Board and a single Policy Council, where producer representatives provide valuable input into the development of proactive industry policy to benefit the Australian sheep industry.
“The success of a skills-based Board is its ability to purposefully bring to the board table a number of diverse individuals with specific skills, resulting in robust discussion and creative solutions. With the separation of the Board and the Policy Council, there is clear delineation between strategy and operations, which has been a critical step in SPA’s growth.”
“The new Board quickly established its values and the values of the organisation, which are to be a highly collaborative and evidence-based voice of reason, with a global outlook. Building our reputation as an informed and trusted leader has been critical in enabling us to be a valued and sort after advocate.”
Chris believes that every good decision will be backed up with data and evidence and adopting this culture has been very important for SPA. The use of specialist taskforces and independent reviews has enabled informed debate and progress.
SPA launched the world’s first Sheep Industry Sustainability Framework (SISF) in April 2021. The role of the framework is to measure and report industry performance against sustainability priorities, providing evidence to our customers that the food and fibre they purchase has been produced responsibly.
“Launching the SISF was definitely a highlight for me, having been involved right from the very start, designing the governance structure, recruiting exceptional leaders from our supply chains, and establishing the culture and purpose. It has been a fantastic collaboration with Wool Producers Australia, MLA and AWI, working together towards a common goal.”
“It’s a real leadership piece that will be of great value to industry. It will highlight opportunities and challenges and areas for improvement. We have developed a strong link between the framework and the SPA Policy Council”
Chris is particularly proud of his contribution to the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC), which includes the Presidents and Chairs of all of the red meat Peak Industry Councils. RMAC is responsible for managing the Red Meat Investment Fund and writing the meat industry strategic plan, RM2030. RMAC has gone through substantial change in recent times, with a new Chair and CEO and adopting the recommendations from a full Board effectiveness and governance review.
“It has been an honour to be on the RMAC board and lead it through change, following a particularly challenging time, developing RM2030, the MOU review, and providing leadership through drought, the LiveEx crisis, Covid-19 and reporting to a revolving door of Ag Ministers. RMAC is in a great place now, to provide whole of supply chain collaborative leadership.”
“I am confident that as I look to finish my term as Independent Chair, SPA is in a sound financial position, with a strong board, a competent and knowledgeable CEO, leading a hardworking, dedicated, and professional team, who have formed solid relationships with our key stakeholders, to ensure we are effective advocates for producers across Australia.”
SPA has some big pieces of work ahead of it, including leading improvements to our national livestock traceability system and completing a review of sheep transaction levies.
“The Australian sheep industry has a very bright future. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Chair of SPA and contributing to all of its many endeavours. I encourage suitably experienced and qualified individuals, who are passionate about the red meat industry and want to make a difference, to apply for this position.”