By any measure, Pepe Bonaccordo is one of Australian agriculture’s great success stories.
Starting in 1973 as a backyard business with just 22 Pekin ducks, Pepe’s Ducks now supplies 80,000 birds a week out of its facility at Windsor, NSW, and is the largest producer of ducks in Australia and New Zealand.
Having put home-grown duck firmly on the Australian dinner plate, over the past two decades Mr Bonaccordo has been cementing the future growth of the industry by developing and enforcing uncompromising standards on biosecurity, food safety and animal welfare. These outstanding efforts have seen him make the final of this year’s Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award.
“When it comes to biosecurity, for many years we were under the umbrella of the chicken industry,” Mr Bonaccordo said. “But a duck’s needs are quite different to those of a chicken. Put simply, if you put a duck in a bucket of water and you put a chicken in a bucket of water, one will float, the other won’t. That goes all the way through to factors like the densities of our sheds, the way we grow the ducks, husbandry, animal welfare, water requirements etc.”
In 2006, in an effort to develop industry wide biosecurity standards, Mr Bonaccordo drove the establishment of the Australian Duck Meat Association, along with the other major player in the market (Luv-a-Duck). The association’s crowning achievement was the production, last year, of the Farm Biosecurity Manual for the Duck Meat Industry. The manual identifies areas of risk common to all duck enterprises along with appropriate measures to minimise those risks.
Duncan Rowland, Manager of Biosecurity Planning and Implementation at Animal Health Australia, said Mr Bonaccordo demonstrated a clear passion for improving biosecurity, not only in his own business but for the broader industry.
“The judges were particularly impressed with the market drivers Pepe’s have introduced for better biosecurity and the way they’ve demonstrated that biosecurity systems provide a standard of excellence that helps meets customer needs,” Mr Rowland said.
“We feel very excited about being nominated as a finalist,” Mr Bonaccordo added. “It does tell us that a lot of the hard work that we’ve done has been recognised by other people.”
Hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, and sponsored by Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia, the Biosecurity Farmer of the Year award recognises the efforts of producers dedicated to keeping their operations free of diseases, pests and weeds. The nominations of all of the finalists demonstrate that successful biosecurity practices are not only part of responsible farming – they can also be great for business.
Winners of all categories in the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Sydney on 7 September.