The Argyle Foods Group had its beginnings as a historical Angus stud, established in 1938 by the Graham family on the South West Slopes of New South Wales. Today, it has grown to become one of the country’s most trusted beef and mixed farming operators. Now, the fifth generation of Graham farmers is building an enterprise for the future.
Argyle is part of a collaboration with KPMG and MLA in the KPMG Origins – Trusted Beef Traceability project. The initiative, which helps farmers bolster product value and strengthen their brand, has been made possible thanks to Argyle’s adoption of AgriWebb and its Individual Animal Management feature. You can learn more about the project here. It’s just one of many benefits that AgriWebb has brought to the livestock enterprise.
A clear view of the farm, from afar
There are a lot of moving parts to the Argyle Foods Group. Under the leadership of co-CEO’s and brothers Lachlan and Bryce Graham, the operation has expanded into international markets, including China, the Middle East and the USA.
With livestock across the east coast and investors across the globe, the AgriWebb Livestock Enterprise Management platform makes it simple for stakeholders to stay informed and up to date.
“Our CFO is based in Edinburgh, and my brother and co-CEO is based in Hong Kong,” Lachlan says. “They all have AgriWebb on their devices and can log in and see what’s happening. If my brother’s meeting with shareholders or potential investors, he can just pull it up on his phone in real time and show the data.”
Lachlan finds the map-based interface particularly impressive. “Having that at your fingertips in real-time is a massive benefit for shareholders and incoming investors or financiers. It’s user friendly and presents really well. We can zoom in and show, ‘These are all the livestock; and this is where they are.’ The ability to have that quality data and that visibility is just so important.”
He also loves being able to see what’s happening on the farm, without having to chase up his farm manager. “I don’t have to actually ask – I can go in and see where our mobs are, and see their weights, and see if a load is ready to go out,” he says.
Meeting the needs of a changing market
In his time in the livestock industry, Lachlan has seen the growing importance of corporate responsibility and increasing interest in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors to both investors and consumers. He sees this as an opportunity to tell the fantastic story of Australian livestock producers, and has signed up to a number of verification programs that earn him a premium for his management practices – he is GAP certified and Certified Humane, and has developed a natural grain-fed program targeting key US retail chains, such as Whole Foods.
AgriWebb has been a valuable tool for streamlining farm audits. Having accurate, up-to-date records has made it possible to undergo remote audits, at a time when auditors aren’t able to make farm visits.
Lachlan believes using data intelligently is central to success in the farming landscape. He has a warning for farmers who aren’t ready to embrace technology: “They’ll miss out on opportunities, and they won’t be able to have a lower cost of capital. They won’t be able to expand and maximise productivity as they graze and operate the land with a sustainability focus,” he says. “We’ve got a massive story to tell. The programs we have put us in a position to validate, verify, and then market ourselves as an ESG-focused company.”
He has a blunt assessment for those who would rather ignore the winds of change: “If you haven’t got an ESG focus and you’re within this industry – particularly if you are an integrated business like us – then you’re going to be quickly left behind in the years to come.”
Adding scientific rigour to sustainable farming
The concern of investors around ESG factors is driving growing interest in regenerative farming and its potential to increase soil carbon. Again, Lachlan sees the positives in the situation.
“We’ve probably been doing regenerative ag practices without calling it that for 30 years. It’s all those things: minimum till, how we graze our land, using perennial pasture and legumes, the different crops we plant and the rotational cycles we use, with a focus on increased productivity” he says.
“A lot of farmers out there probably don’t understand the benefits. People thought carbon farming was locking up good quality land and letting it turn into a feral animal issue.”
Lachlan is looking to bring in hard data to support his sustainable farming practices. As a first step towards achieving this goal, Argyle Foods Group has entered into a three-year co-innovation strategic partnership project with MLA, and brought on a carbon and ESG innovation manager to join the team at Argyle.
“We want to use livestock as a solution. We want to use intelligent grazing processes, by actually measuring pasture growth rate and soil organic matter, and show how we incorporate atmospheric carbon and reduce our carbon footprint by using data-driven strategies across our entire supply chain,” he says.
“The tech and the data we have with KPMG and AgriWebb allows us to get some meaningful data around our carbon position,” Lachlan explains. “We can show how, with increased productivity, we actually have a net benefit to the environment we operate in.”