Young Farming Champions go behind the scenes at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

Three of our Young Farming Champions are bursting at the seams with anticipation and the Sydney Royal Easter Show can’t come round fast enough for them this year after being announced as recipients of Rural Achiever Scholarships.

YFC Tim Eyes Dee George and Kylie Schuller

YFC Tim Eyes, Dee George and Kylie Schuller on Day 1 of their Sydney Royal Easter Show 2015  journey  

 The Rural Achievers will participate in a 12-month program that provides a range of networking and professional development opportunities, including an 11 day behind-the-scenes experience at the 2015 Sydney Royal Show, official functions with RAS councillors and Agricultural Societies Council representatives, cocktail reception at Government House, tour of NSW Parliament House and of program sponsor The Land’s head office at North Richmond.

The achievers will also have the opportunity to represent the RAS at Royal shows and events across the country.

One Rural Achiever will also be selected to represent NSW at the 2016 National Rural Ambassador Awards in 2016. You can read all about it in The Land here

 GRDC Grains Young Farming Champion Dee George said

The thing I am most excited about being a Rural Achiever is the networks and people I will get to meet and talking to like-minded people. I’m also looking forward to the Sydney Royal Show experience, which will be unlike any other year I have been to the Show as we will get to do a lot of behind the scenes work.

MLA Cattle and Sheep Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes said

I’m so excited to be able to share my passion for agriculture with like-minded people in the 2015 RAS Rural Achiever program because it’s a great opportunity for us to shine a light on one of Australia’s most prized industries.

I’ve shown cattle at the Sydney Show for eight years, so I am most excited about seeing behind the scenes and talking to the organisers about the logistics of it all and how they pull it off every year. When you show cattle there that’s just two weeks of your life, but for them, they live and breathe the show all year.

And NSW Farmers Young Farming Champion Kylie Schuller is equally excited saying

 I believe the Rural Achiever program is a great opportunity to equip myself with the skills, knowledge and networking opportunities to enhance my ability to engage with the community, in order to promote our rural industries, our produce and people.

I am particularly excited to get an insight into the organisation and co-ordination of the Food Farm as well as the various Gourmet Food experiences that showcase exceptional regional produce.

Special thanks to our YFC ( Dwayne, Jo, Josh and Georgia) who have been through the Rural Achievers experience in the past and  mentored Kylie, Tim and Dee for the interview process.

Lets hope one of them does as well as MLA Young Farming Champion Prue Capp and wins the national title. I am sure they will be well and truly in the running

The Farming Narrative will be told – its up to farmers to decide how it will be remembered

Ar4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert’s presentation to the audience at the NSW Department of Primary industry’s workshop on SOCIAL LICENCE TO OPERATE – CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITY answered the question posed by the FarmOn team in their recent blog ‘So are farmers ready to care’ found here

We at Art4agriculture are thrilled that the organisers of the event acknowledged that youth are passionate and committed to doing whatever it takes to get the narrative right and  chose to give youth a voice through Josh to tell their story

Below is an abbreviated version of Josh’s talk

Connecting with the community – the narrative

My name is Joshua Gilbert. I am, a fourth generation Braford breeder on the Mid North Coast of NSW, an area my ancestors have farmed for over 40,000 years. I commenced my law and accounting studies in 2009, with the aim of working in community practice. In the process of studying, I found myself drawn back to agriculture, and recognised that my skills could complement both my on farm operations as well as my fellow farmers.

Josh Gilbert Braford Breeder

My long-term aim is to go back to my family farm. I know that agriculture has changed, and that it now requires high level skills for farmers to be successful in the tough climate we find ourselves in. At a wider level, my background will also help me support farmers to up skill in financial literacy.

I am also completing a law degree with a view to spending some time in policy, and getting a greater understanding of what can be achieved. I also hope this training will ensure that I can add value to policy discussions, and ensure we get the best outcomes for agriculture. I am also considering a career in politics.

As a young person who is passionate about the cattle industry, watching the impact of the Live Export scrutiny on our fellow farmers in the Northern Beef Industry, I realise the greatest threat to sustainable red meat production in this country, is no longer harsh climatic conditions and volatile prices, but rather, whether or not our customers find our farming and animal welfare practices socially acceptable.

I also acknowledge that negative consumer images and perceptions about modern farming practices are seriously threatening farmers’ social licence to operate. I feel very passionate about ensuring I have the knowledge, skill sets and a team of people-around me, to help turn this around.

I identified the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions as a group of young people who felt just like me. A core focus of the program is to provide training in how to effectively engage and build relationships with consumers. Through our learning and interactioins we are finding this is an important foundation to success.

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Meat and Livestock Australia Young Farming Champions

I  have just completed my first year of training, which involved learning how to tailor my presentation to an audience in a way that resonates and how to engage with school children. What is particularly exciting about the program is we are also able to engage with their teachers and friends to build a cohort of people who become ambassadors for agriculture and are excited about careers in agriculture.

As part of the program we also get to be the young faces of farming and go into schools participating in the Archibull Prize. This gives students the chance to ask questions about farming practices and careers in the agriculture sector. As part of the Archibull Prize the students create artworks, blogs and multimedia animations, which help take agriculture’s story well beyond the classroom

The program teaches us that the aim is not to educate. The aim is to engage and provide opportunities for consumers to have open, honest and transparent conversations. In this way, we are able to convey we care just as much about the environment and animal well-being as they do.

We are in turn able to show them how challenging it is to farm in a world with declining natural resources, and that if we are going to do this successfully, we need to build strong partnerships between agriculture and the community.

We are also given media training with a strong focus on handling the difficult questions. This has been particularly rewarding for me and shown me it’s not as hard as you might think.

I was recently asked to participate in a live radio interview with the ABC about an upcoming presentation I was to give to the NSW Farmers, Wagga District Council. Having completed a few interviews before with very supportive journalists, I knew I had been lucky and that this would not always be the case.

Prior to the event, I prepared my key messages and because of my Young Farming Champions media training, I was able to stay on message no matter how hard the journalist wanted me to focus on the negatives of agriculture.

In the past, I would have fallen into the trap the journalist set for me. However, I had recently attended a Young Farming Champions workshop where, in the safety of a training environment, I was grilled in the art of staying on message and getting the outcomes I wanted from the interview. This was a very rewarding experience and gave me new confidence

Next year I will have the opportunity to hone my skills by going into schools as part of Art4Agriculture’s programs. Once I have graduated to the next level, I will be given the opportunity to attend master classes, where I will learn how to engage with a diverse range of audiences. Art4Agriculture has recently built a relationship with Rotary and Young Farming Champions who have done master classes will now have an opportunity to present to Rotary groups across Sydney.

YFC 2014

If we want to go further we are given training in how to create a TED talk. We are also provided insights into the art of successful marketing and how important it is to take your audience on the journey with you

But there are plenty more people out there, who are just as passionate as me. People who want to be proactive and build relationships with the community, so we can all work together.

Similarly, they need training, mentoring and ongoing support. Too often I see passionate advocates provided with half day media training and then expected to talk to the media and get it right.

We all feel a huge responsibility when we talk on behalf of our sector and the industry we are part of. It is our responsibility to ensure that the people who take this role on are provided the best training and support, that people who are the faces of the corporate world receive.

We also need to acknowledge not everyone is suitable for this, and we need to support and show how people can value-add to advocacy in many different ways at a level that they are comfortable with.

I am using the skills, knowledge and networks I have developed as an MLA Young Farming Champion to help other youth recognise the social networks and relationships that underpin the new community interest in how our food is produced. This is a great opportunity for us to engage with consumers, and have two-way conversations, that will generate a mutual understanding of each other’s challenges and constraints.

I believe that as farmers, we have so much to share and are so passionate about what we do, however we have not historically been good at communicating this. Our narrative is not to change people’s values, but to demonstrate that farmers share these same values. We have immense pride in what we do; we just need to share these narratives beyond our farm gates to instil trust and confidence in our practices.

Rather than bombard consumers with more science, research or information, I believe it is integral that we demonstrate that we share our consumers’ values on topics that they are most concerned about—safe food, global warming, quality nutrition and animal welfare.

As part of the Young Farming Champion team I now have access to mentors and training, to help develop the skills sets, knowledge and confidence to be part of the solution. These mentors have hands-on, coal face experience, and share this openly and passionately- to help all those involved in the program. This experience is critical to our success- a crucial knowledge bank and practical resources that ensure we don’t repeat the same mistakes that we may have made in the past.

We need to be talking about our farms and our values to become just another role  of the farmer. However it is important to note that this process does not involve educating people, but rather being open and transparent when they want to engage with us.

Just like farmers learn how to use  new farming equipment and technologies, we need to build up our farming community to be confident and have skills  to talk about what they do and why they do it.

My Young Farming Champion story has shown what is possible, it has shown what the backbone of the farming narrative needs to be, and that we can build a confident and skilled group of likeminded people, prepared to talk positively about farming.

It is important agriculture comes together, up skill its people and start telling its story to the world. While everyone has a different story, there are common messages and ways to tell our story that will start people talking positively about farming.

The farming narrative will be told

ht to Greg Mills and Ann Burbrook

#YouthinAg Leadership Hub

Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champions program aims to create an Australia wide network of Young Farming Champions with diverse roles in the our  food and fibre industries that are passionate and skilled in sharing their values and experiences with the non farming community.

The program equips young farmers, in a safe and nurturing environment, to be the next leaders of agriculture on a national and world scale.

To be a leader you have to have many qualities including the desire, drive and courage to get the best outcomes for the common good.

Meat and Livestock Australia supported Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert is definitely a young man with a great deal of desire ,drive and courage. He recently penned this blog for the NSW Farmers initiative AgInnovators 

Uniting a fragmented industry

17th Nov 2014By Josh Gilbert, NSW Young Farmers

When R.M. Williams first opened his first store in Adelaide, Sir Sidney Kidman celebrated his birthday in the heart of the city with a rodeo and Pharlap won the Melbourne Cup, 14 percent of the Australian population was employed in Australian agricultural sector. Both rural and urban communities celebrated the industry and a career in agriculture was highly valued.

Today less than three percent of the Australian population is employed in agriculture. Our farmers’ commitment to producing high quality produce has never been stronger but a majority of urban consumers have little concept of what we do and appear relatively indifferent to the origin and quality of the food they select from supermarket shelves.

The bright light in what otherwise could be a depressing picture is the small but growing group of people in society who are interested in how their food and fibre is produced and who are willing to pay for quality.

It is these people who give us the best opportunity to create partnerships with our consumers and help ensure that the wonderful story of Australia’s agriculture gets spread further and wider into the future.

However, in order to have successful and lasting partnerships with consumers who really care about food quality and sustainable farm practice, we, as the Australian agricultural sector, need to come together as a connected, cohesive and collaborative industry. We need to start behind the farmgate, forming partnerships between farmers and the diverse subcategories we personally represent. Without well-founded industry collaboration, agriculture in Australia will not be able to provide a unified, coherent and respected voice that resonates with the community and government.

To emphasise the challenge we face in achieving unity, I want you to think of the first thing that comes to mind when I mention the words ‘agriculture’ or ”farming?

Are you thinking of a subsector such as beef, grain or dairy?

Or perhaps even a commodity like goat meat, cheese, seafood or apples?

Or what about something more specific like Braford Cattle or super fine Merino wool?

Or a farming region such Darling Downs or the Mallee?

Or state farming organisations like NSW Farmers and the Victorian Farmers Federation.

Perhaps you are thinking of one of the plethora of commercial and government bodies in the agricultural sector providing advice, policy and services.

Currently, there are thousands of voices speaking for agriculture with different opinions and agendas and this is limiting our ability to form better relationships with each other, let alone our consumers. Is it any wonder that urban Australia and our politicians are confused about what agriculture stands for and what agriculture wants?

Of course every subsector of agriculture has different specific production methods and policy issues. But we have far more in common than we have differences.  In order for Australian agriculture to prosper we must agree on the main narrative –  which in my view is about sustaining the quality and integrity of our farming operations and products –  and deliver this narrative effectively with a unified voice. As part of this, we need to create better relationships within the industry, support our colleagues in their pursuits and actively show respect and encouragement for our fellow farmers.

One opportunity I am involved with that is achieving success is the Art4Agriculture program. The platform encourages Young Farming Champions from a variety of sectors to collaborate and discuss their ideas about the industry and how we can best move forward together. My involvement in this program has helped me to see other perspectives and has convinced me of the importance of achieving unity on the really important issues.

In order for our industry to receive the respect and admiration that we previously enjoyed, we must work together. We must formulate, collaborate and be innovative with our ideas as an entire industry rather than continuing to focus on what is happening within our respective boundary fences.

Well said Josh. We look forward to the day when silo farming is a thing of the past

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Dr Steph says the path of research is not an easy one to walk but it is paved with passion.

Art4Agriculture has partnered with the dynamic Steph Coombes to contribute content to her phenomenal resource Ausagventures for all things YouthInAg and those thinking about venturing into the exciting world of a career in Agriculture.

Each month along with 10 agricultural youth groups and organisations we will be writing a blog exclusively for Ausagventures. You can find their profiles below and scroll down to read their blogs and to see what #ausagventures they have been getting up to around the country and how you can join in here.

In our first three blog we are going to feature our three Young Farming Champions who are currently daring to conduct very different and innovative research as part of their PhD thesis.

‘Whoever said a career in agriculture was all mud and flies obviously had no idea what they were talking about’ 

Steph Fowler and fellow Young Farming Champions

Our guest blogger today is Steph Fowler in the middle with fellow young farming champions

First up we have Dr Steph ( in waiting) Fowler who is currently sitting in one the troughs in the roller coaster ride that is the journey to a PhD and a scientific legacy in the world of agriculture R&D 

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Dr Steph with her beloved carcasses

The path of research is not an easy one to walk but it is paved with passion.

My current research project is looking at objectively measuring meat quality. I am working towards being able to identify which lamb carcases will eat well and those that won’t. I am using a laser technology called the Raman spectroscopic hand held probe because it’s rapid, quantitative and non-destructive. Developing this technology for use commercially is a huge benefit to industry because you can measure the actual piece of meat that people are going to eat without destroying it and lamb producers can be paid for the quality of meat they are producing not just the weight.

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The fantastic team at DPI at Cowra (Matt Kerr, Tracy Lamb, David (my supervisor) and Heinar (the probe’s inventor).

Over the last month I have been working on trials that take the prototype probe into lamb processing plants to figure out whether we can use it to determine how tender the meat will be early on in processing. While the work is exciting and new because there’s only two of these probes in the world (one here with me for a few months and another in Germany at the institute in Bayreuth where they are made), the work can be frustrating and deflating because every so often we come across a challenge we can’t see how to solve when we need to so we can continue working. Sometimes it’s something small like an electricity supply adapter that shorts out and then causes a bigger issue or an electric plug that’s lost a wire and sometimes it’s something a bit bigger like the equipment we need not liking the cold chillers. Because I work in smaller rural towns often these problems end in me driving somewhere to get a part or find someone who can help me. Makes for some long days when you start at 5am to be ready for the first carcases to come down to pack up, drive 2 hours, find the people or the part, and get in the car and drive back to be ready to start at 5am the next day. Add onto that some tough working conditions and you have yourself a somewhat difficult working week.

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Me in the lab

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Ken Jr. Keyes said “to be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what do you do have”. With a little love, help, and support from those I work with at the plant, at DPI, at uni and in my own team, the industry as a whole, and the towns and communities I work in as well as my friends and fellow PhD-ers near and far I have been able to salvage my trial and continue. Sometimes it’s been the technical help, sometimes it’s having the part in stock or knowing who does, sometimes it’s helping me make a decision or cooking a home cooked meal or offering me a bed but mostly it’s just being there, and listening and trying to understand.

Research is a rollercoaster ride the ups and downs can come minutes apart and sometimes 20 seconds can change everything. Because each project is unique it can be isolating. We each face issues and challenges that are also unique and that can feel isolating. Relationships with friends, family and significant others don’t always get off the PhD rollercoaster in the same condition that they got on either and that can feel isolating too. Combine that with the stresses of just getting ourselves through the ups and downs and that’s why I value and truly appreciate the phenomenal backing I have received over the last 2 years. I wouldn’t be still standing without it and without being reminded that it is always there.

The backing of the industry and the communities I work in, the people I work with and those who believe in me and my work inspire my passion. They keep me striving at what I do to help move the industry forward. For that I am truly grateful.

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Me and my Italian friends Gianluca and Marco. Gianluca has become one of my biggest cheerleaders ever both professionally and personally.

But no mistaking there have been plenty of highlights in my journey including last year being  awarded a travel grant to attend the graduate program at the 59th International Conference of Meat Science and Technology in Turkey, where I presented two papers; I  was selected as a Crawford Scholar, and elected to the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Youth Group. I also have lifelong memories from my opportunity as a Young Farming Champion  to share my journey in agriculture with four NSW schools as part of their journey to win the 2013 Archibull Prize.  Recently I my manuscript was selected for the Journal of Meat Science

For those who love the science here are all the details you need to read my paper

Predicting tenderness of fresh ovine semimembranosus using Raman spectroscopy
Stephanie M. Fowler, Heinar Schmidt, Remy van de Ven, Peter Wynn,
David L. Hopkins
PII: S0309-1740(14)00064-3
DOI: doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2014.02.018
Reference: MESC 6378
To appear in: Meat Science
URL Link http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174014000643

You can read Steph’s blog she wrote for her YFC application process here

Follow Steph on twitter @steph_bourke

How does one become a butterfly

Meet Casey Dahl who lives breathes and talks agriculture

Today’s guest blog comes Queensland beef farmer and university student Casey Dahl

Each of us have an area that we focus our efforts on to become experts, whether this be cattle reproduction, soil health, disease control or spreading information to people outside of agriculture. If we imagine our industry as a pie, our area of expertise makes up just one little slice of this pie, and if you’re like me and just starting out, you’re still on the outer rim! As we learn more we start to fill in our slice, but we’ll never be able to cover all of the knowledge for even our own slice, let alone all the rest of the pie/industry! This means we need to work together with people from all different sectors, sharing knowledge and ideas to fill in the entire pie, and to keep it growing larger. The bigger and better our Agricultural industry gets, the more our pie will grow and soon everyone will want a piece of it. But this won’t come unless we work together to share what we know. We need to share how wonderful agriculture is, how beautiful the land is, and how passionate we are about it. It doesn’t matter what part each of us take in doing it, but we need to remember that working together is by far the most effective way.

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Agriculture is my everything!

My story begins with my arrival on a beef cattle property near Baralaba in Central Queensland around 22 years ago. My parents Des and Karen Dahl both came from agricultural backgrounds. Dad is the third generation of Dahl’s to run beef cattle on our land, and my mother, is the daughter of a cereal grain farmer on the Darling Downs in South-Eastern Queensland. I was my parents’ second child, and I grew up wanting to do everything that my older brother Mick could do. Growing up on the land was great. Looking back, I see the freedom and the opportunities I was allowed. From learning to ride horses to having pet poddy calves, every day was a chance to learn life lessons, even if I didn’t realise that at the time.

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Me with one of our many poddy calves growing up, and my brother and I helping out with the fencing.

I was home-schooled through the school of the air until year 3 when I started attending the local school, the Baralaba State School. I joined my cousins each day for the few hours round bus trip to school. This was fantastic because it meant there were opportunities to build cubbies and play other games when we were dropped off at the end of the school bus line; it was always girls verse boys of course!

At the age of 14 I went off to boarding school in Rockhampton. It was at boarding school that I first started to feel the tug of home. I missed my family, my animals and my freedom. However, now in high school I just assumed I would leave school and pursue another career, not one in Agriculture. There were numerous options. Would I be an occupational therapist, or maybe a physiotherapist or even an architect? It was always in the back of my mind that one day I would return to the land, but that would be after a career somewhere else.

The end of school came around, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I decided a gap year in England would give me a chance to think about career options a little longer. Working in a country boarding school in Suffolk I soon started to realise a few things:

  1. Snow is fun for about three days. Three months of working in the snow teaching netball on the other hand, really makes you miss the Australian climate.
  2. That there is very little your mum can do for you when you get sick on the other side of the world. All of a sudden I was very responsible for looking after myself.
  3. If I thought I missed home when I was at boarding school, it was nothing compared to how I felt now. I missed my family, friends, space, sunshine…and the list goes on.

But I soon started to settle-in and I started to notice other things. I met a group of English young farmers, and judging by the RM Williams jeans and belts they wore I gathered that they must be good people. I started to realise how much I had to talk to them about in regards to agriculture. We compared our industries, and how differently they operated in our respective countries. It was great! In my time off from work I travelled up to the Scottish border to stay with family relatives. It just so happened that they were largely involved in agriculture. I was given tours of peoples farms, and taken to cattle sales, and my eyes were opened to a whole new world of farming. It was during my year away that I became aware of how much I enjoyed being around people involved in agriculture. These people wanted to learn about how we operated in Australia, and wanted to show me how they ran successful agricultural businesses in the UK. It was all about sharing knowledge, and learning more. I also realised how tough Aussie farmers have it. Subsidies were big throughout Europe for farmers, and they generally didn’t have to struggle with difficulties such as drought and fire.

Belgian Blue Bull Cold Sheep

Adventures in England:  A Belgian Blue bull at the cattle sales and some very cold sheep.

I finally returned home on Christmas day in 2010. It was flooding everywhere, and once I got back to our property the floodwaters made sure I stayed there for over a month with no access to the outside world. After being in England, the isolation was a shock to the system! It was so good to be home and doing what I loved though.

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At home with some of my Brahman cattle

In March of 2011 I started a Veterinary Technologist Degree at the University of Queensland, Gatton Campus. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career, but I now knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture and work with the people in it. At uni I met people from all over Australia and the world, some with a passion for agriculture, some having no idea about it at all. I was surprised by how many of, what I knew to be ‘city kids’, were interested in Ag. It was one of those ‘city kids’ that started to talk to me about the degree he was doing, The Bachelor of Agricultural Science. The degree meant an extra year of study but I soon made the switch. This degree covered all aspects of Agriculture, from cropping, to environmental impacts, and business management. I loved getting the broad overview of agriculture in our country.

I’m still at uni, currently in my final year. Whilst being here I’ve had many huge learning experiences. I had a part time job with DAFF working in Dairy Research, which opened my eyes to an incredibly complex industry that I knew very little about. I also have undertaken a 13-week internship with a bovine reproduction centre near Rockhampton, Rocky Repro, where I learnt so much about the importance of utilising breeding technologies to develop our industries. It was on my internship that I started to recognise an area in agriculture that I’d like to focus more on. I am now about to conduct an honours project looking at an alternative method to cryopreservation of bovine semen, from which we will hopefully gain some useful results to share with the reproduction industry.

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Getting dirty working in Dairy Research

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Analysing semen whilst on my internship.

And that brings us to the present day, so what have I taken from my journey so far?

Most importantly, it is that agriculture is a diverse industry which entails so many smaller sectors within it. Each one of these sectors is full of passionate people with unique skills and knowledge. Which is lucky, because agriculture is a fundamental part of human existence as we know it, so every one of those people is important.To use an analogy my academic supervisor told me just this week (Warning: I may have put my own spin on this).

Each of us have an area that we focus our efforts on to become experts, whether this be cattle reproduction, soil health, disease control or spreading information to people outside of agriculture. If we imagine our industry as a pie, our area of expertise makes up just one little slice of this pie, and if you’re like me and just starting out, you’re still on the outer rim! As we learn more we start to fill in our slice, but we’ll never be able to cover all of the knowledge for even our own slice, let alone all the rest of the pie/industry! This means we need to work together with people from all different sectors, sharing knowledge and ideas to fill in the entire pie, and to keep it growing larger. The bigger and better our Agricultural industry gets, the more our pie will grow and soon everyone will want a piece of it. But this won’t come unless we work together to share what we know. We need to share how wonderful agriculture is, how beautiful the land is, and how passionate we are about it. It doesn’t matter what part each of us take in doing it, but we need to remember that working together is by far the most effective way.

I am so privileged to have been born into an agricultural lifestyle, and have loved it from the start, even though along the journey It look like I might move in a different direction. I hope that in the future I can play a part in helping people on the land cope with the adversities we are sure to face. I also hope I can help people from a non-agricultural background become part of this industry, allowing them too to have a piece of the pie.

I love the land and think it is absolutely beautiful! In my spare time, I try to capture this whether it be through photography, painting or drawing.

Meet Tim Eyes who is mixing beef with surf and turf

Our guest blogger today is young farmer Tim Eyes a great example of how you don’t have to own the farm to farm the farm clip_image002

This is Tim’s story……  

I live on my parent’s turf farm; whilst I run five cows of my own on the family farm and help out when I can I don’t farm turf for a living.

My story is an example of how young people can successfully farm without have to own the land

My name is Tim Eyes and I run Eyes Farm Contracting; a property management and consulting business based on the NSW Central Coast and Hunter Valley. I am lucky enough to be living my farming dream, which has always been to manage and work on beef cattle properties in the Australian Beef Industry.

The New South Wales Central Coast is known for its beaches and is an easy 1 hour drive north of Sydney. The equine industry is booming in the area, but there are still some pockets of prime land that are producing quality beef cattle. This is where Eyes Farm Contracting comes in.

As a young boy I always dreamed of being a farmer, but always envisioned that it would not be possible in my home town on the Central Coast. I attended primary school in an urban area, and was always ‘the country boy stuck on concrete’. Because of this, my parents gave me the opportunity to attend boarding school in year eight at Scots School in Bathurst. The school had an extensive farm and I was given the opportunity to oversee lambing and calving. This led to my heavy involvement into the school’s show teams in sheep and cattle taking me around the state to regional shows and Sydney Royal.

I truly fell in love with farming given the opportunity to immerse myself in agriculture whilst at school. After year 10, I left to attend Tocal Agricultural College, receiving dux of the college. Tocal was a very important to help me reach my career goal of working in agriculture. Tocal taught me the practical and theoretical skills to enter the agricultural industry with confidence.

While attending Tocal, I was well on the way to starting my own beef cattle herd, spending weekends establishing the infrastructure on my parents farm. I spent my work experience from Tocal in New Zealand on a property that farmed sheep, cattle, deer and a variety of crops. Another experience was at a large cropping farm at Burren Junction, NSW.

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The view from my Tractor Cab in New Zealand

After completing my studies at Tocal, I received the inaugural Big Brother Movement Scholarship to spend two months in the UK studying. This really opened my eyes to a completely different industry; where cattle are kept in sheds for the majority of the year and lack of rain is far from a problem. I spent time at Genus in Wales, one of the most prestigious Bull genetic and semen collection facilities in the world. During this time, I helped collect seamen from the world’s most popular dairy bull, and other highly sought after beef bulls. My trip also led me to Scotland, where I got to show cattle, work with thousands of sheep, met HRH Princess Anne and have two of the most amazing months of my life, that not only taught me about agriculture but also about myself.

After coming home from the UK, I felt I was well equipped with a wealth of knowledge to start my career in Agriculture. I didn’t really know what the next step would be. Should I follow the majority of my friend’s and go out West to find work on a large scale farm?

Fortunately the answer was decided for me when I was asked to run a beef cattle farm only 5 minutes from home producing high quality Limousin cattle. This was not was well established farm and only required me to work 2 days a week. This led me to start Eyes Farm Contracting, a property management and consulting business.

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The next opportunity for my business was to run a show team for Douglasdale Charolais Stud. This has since blossomed into a 3 days a week permanent role, where I am heavily involved with the raising of their stud cattle and quality commercial cattle herd. Their farming operation is currently spread over three farms, one on the Central Coast, the other two based around Dungog in the NSW Hunter Valley, all totalling 4000 hectares. Our cattle supply high quality grass fed beef to local butchers and one day a week involves taking cattle to the abattoir.

Other days are spent mustering, fencing, breaking in cattle, and attending to the show team and other stud cattle on the property. The Show Team has been highly successful, winning over 6 Supreme exhibits and countless first and champion prizes at local shows right along the East Coast.

I also manage a commercial Angus cattle farm, as well as conduct freelance property consultations and advising.

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Winning Grand Champion Senior Bull, Maitland Show 2014

Being part of the local community is important to me and I am a member of my local fire brigade. This gives me a great opportunity to communicate and discuss with local farmers issues in their industry that are important to both them, their industry and the wider community.

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Educating Farmers about bull selection at Tocal Field Day 2013

I am definitely a rural entrepreneur, finding many ways to diversify my family farm. I also run a small poultry business with my partner, Hannah, called ‘Eggs on Legs’, selling up to 50 laying hens a week. We are hoping to expand our business into providing free range eggs.

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 After fixing the pump

Despite being the direst continent Australian cattle farmers play a major role in feeding the world.

Australia produces only 4% of the world’s beef yet is the world’s third largest exporter exporting to over 100 countries

Many developing countries do not have the land or resources to produce enough protein to feed their populations and these countries rely on Australia for the import of beef and sheep meat products to meet their protein needs. Did you know that Australian beef and lamb is the major protein source used to make around six billion meals each year around the world?

I am very proud to be part of this important industry and my role in helping farmers adapt their farming practices to suit the soil and climate of their farms and the changing climate conditions.

 

See Tim’s Target 100 profile here

Meet Prue Capp who has a proud history in wine, a passion for beef and a career with horses

Our last three posts have highlighted the value of the partnership between young people, agricultural shows and show competition personal development opportunities like participating and/or judging events and Showgirl and Rural Achiever participation

The Rural Achiever event at a national level becomes The National Rural Ambassador Award.  It promotes young people’s contribution to rural communities, as well as rewarding individual achievement and commitment to the agriculture industry. The national winner receives an annual travel bursary

Our guest post today comes from Prue Capp who was declared the 2013 National Rural Ambassador at the national finals in Fielding in New Zealand’s North Island late last year.

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This is a very prestigious award as you can imagine and it would appear the sky’s the limit for Gresford equine dentist, student and now 2013 Trans-Tasman National Rural Ambassador Prue Capp.

Prue’s love for the country and agriculture started in the Hunter Valley on her family’s historic  beef cattle and stockhorse-breeding property “Cawarra” at Gresford.

In 2009 she graduated from the University of New England with a Bachelor of Agribusiness and completed an equine dentistry course through the International Association of Equine Dentistry in New Zealand in 2010.

She is also an accredited Australian Stock Horse judge, a member of the Gresford Show Committee, a member of the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW (ASC) Youth Group, and at the age of 15 became the co-founder of the Australian Stock Horse Youth Committee.

While still operating her equine dentistry business Essential Equine Dentistry, Ms Capp just finished her first year of Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga

This is Prue Capp’s story ……………………………………….. 

My agricultural background and passion for the land has ultimately paved the direction of my future. I am a sixth generation grazier in Gresford NSW and part of the Lindeman’s family.

Our property “Cawarra” was home to Dr Henry Lindeman and Lindeman’s wines, which began growing grapes as well as raising cattle and producing beef in 1842. While the vineyard and winemaking ventures were moved to Pokolbin in 1912 for more uniform climatic conditions (especially in relation to frosts), the property remained and continues to produce cattle to this day.

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“Cawarra” Homestead

“Cawarra” originally a holding of 5,500 acres is now 840 acres (340 hectares). Like many holdings in the area, “Cawarra” has been subdivided over generations due to high cost of land and popularity of small, rural lifestyle lots common for the area’s idyllic geographic location.

Subdividing the property has allowed us to raise capital and improve pasture and increase livestock carrying capacity.  Whilst “Cawarra” is fairly modest in size, we are very proud to optimising our productivity whilst lowering our environmental footprint.

“Cawarra” operates a primarily Hereford based herd (with some Angus cross), managing 260 cows, 80 heifers and 210 steers. We use low stress handling techniques using horses to move cattle around the property.

As well as our day-to-day operations at “Cawarra”, our family members have off farm income which is common amongst many properties in the Hunter Valley

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Cawarra” cattle

While I have a very strong love of beef cattle, horses have always been an integral component of “Cawarra” for handling and cattle moving purposes. It is no surprise that my brother, sister and myself were all on horse’s before we could walk, as dad believed “it was easier to find us that way”.

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In keeping with family tradition, I too am passionate about the agricultural show movement. From a small age, our family has been involved in various aspects of shows, something which has always been a keen interest of mine. I have been lucky enough to win major placings at agricultural, state, national and royal levels (including Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra Royal shows). Breeding and competing with my own horses is very important to me and I thrive on, and am inspired by their successes and performances.

I was fortunate to attend the New England Girl’s School where my love for agriculture, sport and friendships was nurtured. During my schooling years I was co-founder and vice-president of the Australian Stock Horse Society (ASHS ) Youth Committee. After turning 18 and moving out of the youth events, I attained my judging accreditation helping to bridge the gap between the youth committee and the society.

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Judging Australian Stock Horse’s at an agricultural show.

After finishing school and during university, I worked on thoroughbred studs preparing yearlings for the horse sales. This helped to fund my way through university and open my eyes to yet another avenue of agriculture.

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A personal highlight –  leading through the 2010 Magic Millions top selling colt.

Like most 18 year olds, I wasn’t certain which career direction I was going to take when I finished school. However it felt like a natural progression for me to combine my love for agriculture and my thirst for business knowledge and experience. I graduated from UNE with a Bachelor of Agribusiness in 2009 before travelling around the world with two friends visiting countries in South America, Europe and Africa.

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I have a particular interest in the diversification of rural entities. I am concerned for the many small communities such as Gresford, whose sustainability is under threat from challenges like lack of employment opportunities, population deployment, struggling small businesses and lack of local education opportunities.

This was a major contributing factor for me to study equine dentistry and target a specific niche market, as specialists in many industries do not travel to small communities like ours. I moved to New Zealand to study equine dentistry, before setting up my own business Essential Equine Dentistry in November 2010.

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It was around this time that I became involved in the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW Youth Group. I was very involved in my local Gresford show and realised that there were other young people my age with a passion for the agricultural show movement too. I have held an executive position on the youth group for four years now and spend many of my weekends at agricultural shows judging, stewarding, announcing, coordinating and getting involved in any way.

The agricultural show movement has taken me around the world.

In 2012 I was fortunate to be selected to represent the RAS of NSW and the Next Generation at the RASC conference in Zambia. The ‘Global Food Production’ theme tours were a highlight for me given my farming and agribusiness background. It was enlightening to see how a third world country relies on agriculture as a tool for survival and how even the smallest of improvements in agricultural practices makes a difference in their quality of life. I also got to meet HRH Princess Anne.

If population predictions are correct, it is important now, more than ever, to ensure that we as farmers can continue to feed the world and I aspire to be a part of this.

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Spending a day at a Zambian Agricultural show/expo

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Visiting a feedlot in Zambia

I have been operating my own business Essential Equine Dentistry for three years now and have enjoyed the challenges and benefits involved with running a business. In 2012 I bought a house and relocated to Scone in the Hunter Valley, renown as the horse capital of Australia. At the same time, I was selected as one of eight finalists of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Rural Achiever at Sydney Royal Easter Show. This experience included nine amazing days ‘behind the scenes’ of the show, visiting Parliament House and functions with the Governor of NSW. The award is a state-wide leadership program, recognizing future young leaders who are working hard to make a significant contribution to their local community and to rural Australia. I was extremely fortunate to be selected the winner of the award and the NSW Rural Achiever representative.

While I am very proud of my business achievements, I wanted to go further and take it to the next level. While I could not go too much further with equine dentistry, I chose to undertake further study. In 2013, I went back to university as a mature age student (all of 25) to study veterinary science at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. I enjoy the course as it specialises in large animals, helping to close the divide between the number city vets who specialise in small animals in comparison to the shortage of large animal vets. Once I have completed my degree I am looking forward to working in rural and remote areas

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With my parents Tim and Helen Capp watching the Hereford classes at the Royal New Zealand Show

As the 2012/2013 NSW Rural Achiever, I represented NSW as the finalist at the 2013 National (Trans-Tasman) Rural Ambassador Award run by the Federal Council of Agricultural Societies in December 2013. The award includes each of the state’s rural achiever/ambassador finalists as well as the New Zealand representative. I was very fortunate to win the national award – I am still pinching myself!

This award is a  tremendous opportunity and a platform for me to encourage like-minded people, especially the next generation, to become involved in their community organisations and be proud of their communities.

Becoming the National Rural Ambassador has also allowed me to reach a wider network of like-minded people, giving me a platform from which to showcase the agricultural show movement, promote the agricultural industry and encourage those who may be considering a career in agriculture.

It has also allowed me to encourage and show other young people, especially rural based women that establishing and operating their own businesses, can be highly rewarding and that if you immerse yourself whole heartedly, anything is possible.

As a young agriculturalist, I believe education is the key to the future of the agricultural industry and by further study I will be able to contribute to its future. For this reason I wish to pursue a career as a large animal veterinarian in rural communities as well as work in the live export industry.

I believe in the future of farming and the sustainability of agriculture and I thrive on the opportunity to be an ambassador for agriculture.