The National Herd Improvement Association of Australia Inc. (NHIA) held its 2022 Annual General Meeting in Camperdown, Victoria on Wednesday 3rd August with, for the first time since 2019, members and industry partners attending in person.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the day-to-day operations of members and the Association over the most recent NHIA financial year (April 2021 – March 2022), Chairman Graeme Gillan reported an increase in funding of industry projects, progress on plans to reintroduce industry accreditation for technicians and solid revenue numbers.
NHIA industry funding
A key part of NHIA’s efforts to build resilience and capacity in the herd improvement and AI industry is the Herd Improvement Industry Funding Program, introduced during the last financial year.
To date over $68,000 has been awarded to projects that will improve data access for farmers around artificial insemination (AI), address Australia’s longstanding shortage of professional AI technicians and increase the ability and knowledge of DIY and professional inseminators.
Funded from NHIA reserves, this is an ongoing program. Round 4 of the Herd Improvement Industry Funding Program is now open, closing on 31 January 2023.
Herd improvement and AI industry training
A major focus of the last year has been to develop an updated AI training course utilising remote learning capability, updated AI training manual and the commencement of reviewing new training facilities in collaboration with Dairy Australia and Tafes, who will offer the new fundamentals curriculum.
NHIA has also taken the lead on industry accreditation, with plans to reintroduce accreditation for technicians as well as semen and embryo handling well advanced.
Strong financial performance
The 2022 result has many positive aspects that reflect the goals of NHIA. Revenue numbers were maintained, and expenses reduced (excluding industry projects) providing a solid basis for the stability of the business, reflected in total members’ equity of $1,530,266, consistent with the previous year.
The appointment of new and returning Board members was announced during the AGM following an election with 7 nominations received for 2 Board positions. Approximately 80% of the NHIA membership voted in the postal ballot.
Current Board members Cathy Bourke, STG Australia, and Paul Douglas, STG Australia, renominated following completion of their 3 year terms. Following the postal ballot, Ms Bourke was re-elected for a further 3 year term and Adam Daniels, Numurkah NuGenes, was elected to the Board for a 3 year term.
Following the AGM Anthony Shelly, Total Livestock Genetics VIC-GAC, was appointed Chairman, with Cathy Bourke appointed Deputy Chair and Phil Wren, National Herd Development, Treasurer.
Current Chairman, Graeme Gillian’s annual appointment came to an end at this AGM, which concluded his 11 years serving on the Board of NHIA.
Strong position for future growth
NHIA CEO, Sara Merckel, reported that despite the operational challenges of the previous year NHIA was able to increase collaboration between members and make significant progress on projects that will benefit the herd improvement and AI industry.
Ms Merckel also outlined that as Australia emerged from the COVID restrictions of 2021 NHIA was able to make good on a key part of its strategic vision, visiting regions to engage with members, gather information, provide support and build and grow the relationships that keeps herd improvement delivering for producers.
NHIA will also continue its focus on strengthening industry data, with this information crucial to identifying training opportunities and gaps that need review. A second National Herd Improvement Data Survey will be launched next month designed to collect further information to build a stronger herd improvement sector.
Twenty-one members attended the 2022 Annual General Meeting in person, plus a small number attending online. Future AGMs will follow this hybrid format to increase access to attend the meetings to as many members and industry stakeholders as possible.
Pictured L-R are NHIA Board members 2021-2022: Adam Daniel, Cathy Bourke, Anthony Shelly, Graeme Gillan, Phil Wren, Mike Rose, Paul Douglas, and Geoff Wood.