Today we are delighted to introduce you another fabulous young beef farmer with a great story to tell.
Kylie Schuller grew up in rural NSW, where her family managed a beef feedlot. Her interest in the industry she says
“surely developed from the 1000’s of water troughs I’ve cleaned and the bunks of wet feed I’ve shovelled out. However my LOVE of the beef industry began when my family established a Shorthorn Stud and I became involved with the Shorthorn Youth Club, and became more aware of the opportunities that agriculture had to offer”.
Here is the Kylie Schuller story …..
I won’t lie to you, when I was younger living on the farm wasn’t something I was proud of or even enjoyed. There was lots of hard work to be done and it seemed to always need to be done when it was 40°C or bucketing down raining. I wish that I could tell you that there was a moment that changed my life, that made me realise how important beef production and agriculture is to our society, but there wasn’t! Somewhere between being obsessed with “Home and Away” in year 7 and travelling across America looking at cows on my “gap” year I found a passion for beef production, second to none!
My dad, brother and me with some of our Shorthorn Heifers.
In 2001 my family started our shorthorn herd, “Outback Shorthorns”. I say that we run our stud as a family, but my Dad and my brother (see above) are the ones that do all the long hours. Unfortunately we don’t have generations of history, and we don’t even own any land. But like any other primary producer we love what we do and work hard to produce cattle that results in the healthiest and tastiest beef possible sitting on the consumer’s plate. We take pride in providing beef to our local butcher and enjoy being able to connect directly with our consumers in this way.
In 2005 I attended my first Shorthorn Heifer Show, a 3 day event completely organised by a youth (5-25 year olds) committee. This was my introduction to the Shorthorn Youth Club, an organisation that taught me what can be achieved when you get youth excited about cattle and agriculture! The great thing about events like this is they provide kids with an “Ag education” in an environment that is both relaxed and fun!
What’s not to love about beautiful roan Shorthorn Heifers??
Fast forward a few years and I was the secretary of the Shorthorn Youth Club and realising just how much work it takes to keep events like the Shorthorn Heifer Show afloat. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Organising the Shorthorn Heifer Show, by no means came close to killing me but it was an experience that made me stronger: stronger in my love of the Shorthorn breed and stronger in my belief in the future of agriculture. There is just something about 100+ kids willing to parade their heifers in the pouring rain that sets my heart on fire!
I look forward to helping out with cattle work at home but my desire to learn about agriculture has always been much stronger!! I studied a Bachelor of Livestock Science at the University of New England, which I both loved and hated depending on the day. Whilst at Uni I was lucky enough to get involved in the Intercollegiate Meat Judging Competition, which was hands down the best opportunity presented to me in my university degree. This competition presents students with a mixture of incredibly talented and passionate speakers, along with amazing career opportunities and very quickly I was hooked. This competition is what really started to get me thinking about the most fundamental part of the beef industry…the consumers!
UNE Meat Judging team 2011 ready to head into the chillers
When I finished uni I was at a bit of a crossroads, waiting for the perfect job to come along. The fate came along and I was offered a scholarship from the Australian Shorthorn Association to travel to the United States of America and look at cows! Of course I said yes and off I embarked on my “Gap” year spending 6 months in the USA, travelling to 17 different states and touring more than 30 herds of cattle! I learnt a lot while I was in America, about the best way to deep fry Oreo’s, to how to keep cattle alive in -30°C weather, and everything in between. I came home with a renewed appreciation for the country we live in and all that is good about it, as well as a yearning for good quality Australian beef!
The perfect guy for me… a Beef superhero!!
Now I’m lucky enough to have an amazing job working within the meat industry, in the city! I love working in the meat industry as it’s the culmination of at least 2 years’ worth of hard work in terms of genetics, raising, feeding and processing livestock. My job is giving me a unique perspective of what the beef industry looks like from the other side of the table.
My biggest concern for the future of food production is firstly the misconceptions about modern agriculture. I believe telling our story, raising awareness and engaging with the community to help people be more aware that Australian beef is a safe and healthy product that is good for the environment has never been more important.
Secondly is our aging farming population and the importance of attracting and retaining new entrants into agriculture .
Both of these are key reasons why I have joined the NSW Farmers Young Farmers Council. NSW Young Farmers is a group within the NSW Farmers Association which aims to advocate for young farmers in collaboration with other industry groups to achieve positive progression for the wider industry.
Beef has now become an all-encompassing thing for me. It’s what I talk about all day at work, it’s the friends I have made through shows and competitions, it’s the weekends spent working with cattle and it’s the flavourful and juicy steaks cooking on my BBQ.
Kylie sums up her philosophy beautifully here ………
Food is essential to life, we all eat it every day (sometimes a little too much). We all (even people in rural and farming areas) at times take food for granted, without due consideration to all the people that work hard every day to ensure our food is safe, healthy and of the highest quality and convenience. I think the only way to ensure the future of agriculture is to create a network of knowledge and understanding, where as a nation we acknowledge the importance of food production and what community members can do to support agriculture.
Follow Kylie on Twitter @kschuller89