Continuing our series on #youthinag and their journey to agriculture nirvana, today’s story comes from Joe Banks a man who can teach you how to fish and feed you for a lifetime
I’m Joe Banks from Dirranbandi. That’s how I’ve been introducing myself since as long as I can remember.
Welcome to Dirranbandi a town that encourages everyone to learn how to fish
Some people say they were born in the saddle – well I was just about born on a quad bike behind a mob of sheep. My early years were spent around the stock routes of Moree NSW droving our sheep, as Dirranbandi was in the grip of one of the many bad droughts in the early 1990’s. Until I was three most of my life was spent with my small family, the pack of six sheep dogs that were my best mates and a mob of hungry, dusty ewes.
And then – thank Christ – it finally rained and we moved back to ‘Dunwold’, a mixed sheep, cattle and cropping property between Dirranbandi and St George in South West Queensland.
South West Queensland is where I call home
In a typical country upbringing, days were spent following my older brother and parents around the property. Riding horses, motorbikes and the odd billy cart behind our friends ‘pet’ goat over at our other property on the Western side of the Balonne River. It was these early years spent on the farm that ignited my passion for agriculture.
A trip down memory lane
After seven years at St George State School, travelling 45 minutes each way on the bus every day I was sent off to join my brother as a boarder at Brisbane Boys College. Being away from home only made you miss it more, and I’d be counting the days until school holidays so I could get back home to help out on the farm. I was often scheming of ways to make money, whether from mustering feral goats or selling sheep manure. My brother and I were probably not the best advocates for farm safety, and whenever we got a spare minute we’d be in the workshop welding up something or fabricating something to tow behind the quad flat out!
As with a lot of eastern Australia we were hit with some pretty severe droughts in the early 2000’s where we stopped dryland cropping and planted Saltbush into the old cropping land to act as a fodder buffer for dry times so that we could continue to carry most of our sheep. It is innovative practices such as this and cell grazing that drove me to seek out further knowledge, education and experiences in agriculture.
After completing school in 2007, I returned home to work on the home farm and other properties, gaining experience in different types of grazing management systems.
After a year of this I got a bit restless, and tales of the Territory lured me north. I worked on cattle stations in the Northern Territory and Western Australia’s Kimberley region for Consolidated Pastoral Company for two years, gaining experience on extensive pastoral cattle properties. It was good fun to work with a lot of like-minded people and see the way large beef operations work. They were big days, and there were oceans of cattle. I wanted to experience all parts of the industry and even spent a couple of weeks living and working with a mostly Filipino crew aboard the biggest live export ship in the world, the ‘Ocean Shearer’. Along with honing my karaoke skills, I was also in charge of overseeing animal welfare standards and feed for 2,000 head of cattle.
Driven to gain more skills I decided to head down to Marcus Oldham College in Victoria to study a Bachelor of Agribusiness from 2011 to 2013, where I was exposed to different agricultural enterprises and methods from southern Australia, New Zealand and China.
After working in all sections of the agricultural supply chain, including; farming, processing, transport and corporate agriculture, I knew that I would never be happier than when working in some aspect of the agricultural industry. In 2015 I jumped at the opportunity to be Projects Officer in one of Australia’s leading agricultural companies The North Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCO), where I now work as Commercial Analyst. I have been fortunate enough to travel to all of the company’s stations and get a great grounding on the production and financial drivers of these stations. I enjoy a knowing what makes businesses ‘tick’ and am passionate about the beef industry and all Australian agriculture.
As part of my job i get to meet from many different backgrounds. Here I am on the left with Kris Yule, GM of Sales for News Corp Australia, and Heath Goddard, CEO of Pillow Talk
I reckon I’m pretty lucky and have the best of both worlds – I get to analyse the productivity and profitability as well as still be involved in the ground-level production on the stations. Despite a couple of years of being away from home working around Australia I still have a strong connection to Dirranbandi and am fortunate enough to have had the country upbringing I did.