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Charlie Perry takes out top agri-award in Australia

Leadership, vision and humility were the standout qualities that resulted in Charlie Perry taking out the 2022 Australian Zanda McDonald Award on Thursday night.

Julie McDonald, Charlie Perry, Richard Rains (Chair). Photo credit: Andrew Norris, The Land, ACM

Perry, who lives and works on his family owned and operated wagyu beef farm at Gurya in Northern NSW, returned to his passion for agriculture after a successful career in business consulting, and hasn’t looked back. Since taking over management in 2016, he’s overseen substantial growth in their family business, despite some of the worst years of drought on record, with a focus on productivity gains, genetic indicators and sustainability. He also serves as president and chair of the Australian Wagyu Association (AWA).

The Zanda McDonald Award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. Perry will receive an impressive trans-Tasman prize package centred around mentoring, education and training that is 100% tailored to his needs.

Zanda McDonald Award Chair Richard Rains says “Charlie demonstrates all the key qualities that epitomises the Award, which stood him above an outstanding field of finalists. His passion for agriculture is obvious, and has resulted in him significantly growing his family seed stock business, whilst being active in both his local community and industry associations. He has a clear understanding of the challenges that face both his business and the industry, and is providing cohesion and leadership through his involvement in the AWA. Charlie is an accomplished communicator, yet at the same time humble, and as judges, we’re really excited about his future.”

Perry was overwhelmed to receive the Award. “I’m so thrilled, and feel very honoured to have this opportunity. The trans-Tasman mentoring trip in particular will be of huge assistance to me, and I know I’ll learn so much from that experience both personally and professionally. I’m keen to use the $10,000 education package to align with my skills gaps and growth, and also to improve my social media skills, so I can play an influential role through the stories I share and the work we do.”

The Award interviews and presentation were held in Orange, NSW at an intimate dinner on Thursday night.

Perry was initially named a finalist alongside Kate McBride, 23, fifth generation farmer and station hand at Tolarno Station, and researcher at The Australia Institute, from Western NSW; Gavin Rodman, 28, District Manager - Far North, Sugar Research Australia, from Cairns; and Jeremy Cummins, 34, owner and manager for feedlot and backgrounding business Bottlejac Trading Company in Gunnedah, North West NSW.

As the Australian 2022 winner, Perry will receive a professional development package that includes an all-expenses paid trans-Tasman mentoring trip to high-performing farms and businesses in Australia and New Zealand, $10,000 towards further education, and incredible networking opportunities. Roberts will travel by a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft to parts of his mentoring trip, enabling him to reach diverse and remote farming operations on both sides of the Tasman.

The Award would normally crown one winner from across Australasia, but in response to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, an Australian and a New Zealand winner have been crowned this year. Rhys Roberts was announced as the New Zealand 2022 winner last week, and both Roberts and Perry will undertake their mentoring trips over the next 12 months.


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