A man’s world no more

Payton Jennings buying for Nolan Meats at Gympie Saleyards.

By Arthur Gorrie

The cattle saleyard has long been a man’s world for most of those who are part of the action, especially the buyers.

Years of experience and an insightful, even cagey nature have always been part of the game of buying the next pen a little cheaper than the competition.

Then along came Goomeri’s Payton Jennings, 23, who arrived on the scene in mid-2020, as a buyer for Gympie meat processor Nolan Meats.

Payton, from Pomona originally, has been a regular at saleyards around south east Queensland and as far north as Gracemere, near Rockhampton, her boss Terry Nolan said last week.

Always keenly interested in livestock and agriculture, Payton left Noosa District High School to work briefly as part of the Nolan Meats Stock Team

“I openly admit it wasn’t the easiest job, but I liked it.

“I kept looking for something a bit closer to home, which I eventually found,” she said.

“I worked in a few different places, but in January 2018 I went back to Nolan Meats, partly in the stock team, but mostly in the admin team as a livestock clerk.

“After about two and a half years Terry Nolan asked me if I would like to do some saleyard buying. I had spoken to plenty of livestock vendors over the phone and so I jumped at the chance to attend actual sales.”

Nolan Meats are one of the biggest supporters of the Gympie Saleyards regularly buying 15 to 25 per cent of the yarding, but according to local agent Dan Sullivan, buyers are welcome, “whether it is for one head per year and the global companies that buy one million a year as well as everyone in between.”

“It is great to see any new buyers attending and it is great that Nolan Meats have seen Payton’s potential and willing to give her a go.

“She holds her own amongst the men jostling for the best value buys on any given day.”

“She is certainly not the first lady we have seen buying for the larger companies but even in this day and age you would have to say she is still in a very small minority.”

Payton was among a team of young women Nolans took in 2019 to a ‘Meat Business Women’ conference sponsored by the Australian Meat Industry Council as a way of promoting meat industry careers for women.

“I thought it was great a great insight for us girls,“ Payton said.

“We met inspirational speakers from overseas and had the chance for a one-on-one chat with (Queensland) Senator Susan McDonald.”

Payton joins a growing number of women employed as electricians, fitters, skilled knife hands, meat inspectors, MSA graders, environmental officers, HR specialists as well as admin officers.

Payton is also acting as a mentor for another young Widgee woman Maddy Carter, who is learning the ropes as a livestock clerk.

And her belief in the industry shows in the investment she and her partner have made, buying a farm at Goomeri with her partner.