Board member of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) and leading Western Australian lamb producer, Peter Trefort, has been inducted today into the WA Royal Agricultural Society’s Hall of Fame.
Mr Trefort received the honour at a ceremony in Perth in recognition of his contributions to both the sheep industry and agricultural education.
Mr Trefort, who manages his family’s property at Narrogin, WA, has been successful in developing and commercialising an innovative new range of lamb cuts to extend markets both domestically and internationally, and served for 20 years on WA’s Combined Advisory Council of Agricultural Colleges, including three years as chairman.
He also served for 14 years on the board of Meat & Livestock Australia and in 2007 received an honorary doctorate from Murdoch University for his contribution to industry innovation and participation in meat quality and lamb supply chain research projects.
“I never thought I would be in line for receiving anything like this,” Mr Trefort said. “It’s a great surprise and a great honour.”
Nominees are inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame based on their agricultural achievements, their leadership, vision, skill and their impact on Western Australian agriculture.
Mr Trefort’s career includes more than 40 years’ experience in sheep and cattle production, as well as management across the meat supply chain, including the establishment of the Q Lamb brand in conjunction with the likes of Alan Jarman and Graham Sutherland.
“Q Lamb really changed the concept of lamb from being a bi-product of the wool industry to being a product in its own right,” Mr Trefort said. “Lamb went from being available for just three months a year in spring time to something that was prepared and available 12 months of the year.
“It started off when I secured a contract to supply lamb to the Bi-Lo supermarket in Mandurah and I took that contract on the one condition that they labelled the product ‘Fresh from Narrogin farmers’. It was a success and we had to call in help from other local producers.
“We then went from working with 11 farmers around Narrogin to 250 producers from across WA and from processing 250 lambs a week to processing 1500 lambs a day.
“It was a great success because we offered producers a guaranteed minimum price through forward contracting, and the farmers were involved in all stages of the business – they would visit markets in the Middle East and Asia and that customer feedback would help us to deliver a better product.”
Leader of the Sheep CRC Meat Value Chain Program, Professor David Pethick of Murdoch University, said Mr Trefort and the Q Lamb program had kick-started the industry’s closer attention to lamb carcase specifications.
“Peter really was one of the early visionaries of interconnected supply chains with advanced feedback and a focus on carcase specifications for meeting customer needs,” Prof. Pethick said.
“He tackled the problem from a number of directions, developing seasonal finishing systems for our Mediterranean climate to improve the consistency of lamb supply; he was a great believer in LAMBPLAN and the use of appropriate genetics; he pioneered best practice processing and was the first domestic focused processor to use electrical stimulation; plus Q Lamb offered a whole range of cuts, not just chops and roasts.”
Mr Trefort also worked extensively developing on-farm and processing R&D strategy with the Department of Agriculture and Food (WA), University of Western Australia and Murdoch University.
Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said Mr Trefort’s career had changed the landscape of the lamb industry through his roles with Q Lamb, and the boards of the Sheep CRC and MLA.
“I can think of none more deserving of this honour than Peter – he has been an outstanding board member for the Sheep CRC and his knowledge and insights have played a major role in our success,” Prof. Rowe said.