What are five points that summarise your story to now?
I feel privileged to have had a country upbringing on our family farm near Werris Creek, on the NSW Liverpool Plains. I’ve always been passionate about farming and known from a young age it was what I wanted to do. After school, I studied agriculture and business at the University of New England, which provided great insight into new and improved ways of farming, including grains and cotton crop management and protection. I returned home to begin work implementing new practices I learnt from university and working on other farms. I’m keen to see where my farming career takes me.
What are your favourite aspects of farming?
We run Hereford and Red Angus beef cattle, which is where my dad’s interests lay. I prefer the cropping (wheat and sorghum) side of production, watching the plant germinate and progress through different stages of development. Sorghum, a favourite of mine, is well-suited to our soil and climate, and I’m keen to test new varieties and practices to increase productivity.
Who do you look up to, on and off the farm?
My dad (Guy) has been a major role model in all areas of my life. He always encourages me to live an active lifestyle, and to work and participate in aspects of life that I most enjoy. Working alongside him is enjoyable because he is flexible and willing to try new farming practices that I’m eager to trial in our operation.
What’s the best piece of farming advice handed down from previous generations?
The advice that’s always stayed with me is about the importance of being prepared for unforgiving climatic conditions. This past year is a prime example – the drought has pushed many farmers to the limit, both mentally and physically, as it’s made agricultural production near-impossible. It’s made this advice more vivid than ever to me and directed my actions to be prepared in the form of hay for livestock, and in making conservative decisions to help get through the tough times.
What advice might you give to someone considering a life in agriculture?
Positivity and a healthy mindset are key to a happy life on the farm. In many situations, we are 100 per cent reliant on the climate and there’s not much you can do to change it. The main thing to remember is that usually everyone around you is in the same boat, so you have to try and stay positive and not let the tough times get to you.
What do you see as the biggest problems in agriculture and your area?
Australian farmers aren’t paid enough for the products they produce. The world market plays a major role in determining the prices we get, and quite often it’s not enough. This is pushing Australian agriculture to the limit, making farmers invest lots of money to boost efficiency and productivity. Though it’s different at the moment, because demand for commodities in drought has pushed up prices but not many people have any to sell.
If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would you do or change?
In a world of easily available money, time and resources, I’d want to support all Australian farmers (cropping, cattle, dairy) through subsidies, better natural disaster packages (including drought, flood and fire), and in trying to lower input costs or increase the prices we receive for our commodities. There’s a need for a nationwide awareness of the importance of farmers and the work they do in order for Australians and the world to have food on their plate.
Do you think there’s a divide between agriculturalists and non-agriculturists in Australia?
Only due to a lack of general knowledge and awareness of what happens on farms and what farmers must do in order to be profitable and feed the world’s growing population.
What has been your biggest challenge as a younger farmer taking over the reins of an enterprise?
So far, it’s been making decisions at crucial times that can come at a high cost. The results of these decisions are determined by fluctuations in the market and are dependent on the timing of rainfall.
Agriculture is perfectly imperfect but in a perfect world, what would the future look like for your business?
The direction of our business growth is expansion of cropping areas within the farm while integrating a wider variety of crops, such as chickpeas, into our rotation.
If you are facing a problem on farm, do you openly seek assistance from others or manage yourself?
Depending on the situation, I’d seek advice from others. I’m very lucky to have friends and family with wide-ranging farming experience and knowledge. As I’ve only just started my farming career, I understand I have a lot to learn and recognise advice from experienced farmers can be extremely helpful. In saying that, every farm is different, with different goals – so it’s important to make decisions based on your individual situation.
What are your hobbies and interests away from the farm?
Having other interests is important to a positive, healthy mindset. I’m an active person, playing cricket on Wednesday afternoons, tennis on Thursday nights, and golf on weekends. These local social competitions, where mates are able to catch up away from the farm, are great. In summer months, I enjoy water-skiing with mates at local dams. And I have three sisters that live around the state, so it’s nice to go and catch up with them whenever I get a chance and take a break from the farm.
Are you willing to try new things on the farm or prefer to stick with what has worked before?
I value past generations and practices that allowed the farm to be what it is today. I also want to implement new practices I’ve learnt. In the past, our farm has used a lot of cultivation. Due to below-average rainfall the past few years, I’m in the process of converting our farm into a zero tillage system to preserve moisture. I’m also looking to grow our first crop of chickpeas in 2019, in the hope to grow them regularly in our rotation.
If farming wasn’t an option, what would be your next dream job?
Having grown up on the farm, I couldn’t see myself moving to the city. If farming wasn’t an option, I would hopefully be working within the agricultural industry – preferably with crops as an agronomist, and in a hands-on approach, out in the field.