Top stop stories from Young Farming Champions (YFC) around the globe!
In the Field
“Connect and Collaborate” are the two words we use most often at Young Farming Champions HQ, and this week it’s our pleasure to start our Muster with two stories highlighting these values.
Wool YFC and Tasmanian based shearer Tom Squires and YFC and Wool Broker of the Year Samantha Wan teamed up to secure sale success for Squires Pastoral.
Just 18 months since the start of the Squires Pastoral wool growing operation, Tom Squires has topped the weaner wool price for the Elders Wool Sale on October 10th. Elders Wool Auctioneer Samantha Wan sold Tom’s first three bales of wool at $14.32 per Kg, topping the weaner wool category in the sale.
Tom says, “While the market has taken a beating with prices falling 33 percent in 12 months, I’m positive there is a future for wool. The wool market is one of the most volatile markets in the world, but you take the lows with the highs and at the end of the day just hope that the highs outweigh the lows.”
Given the current market, Tom was happy with the result and says “it’s a nice feeling knowing that the wool you work to produce is in demand.” Tom’s remaining three bales will be held onto in the hope the market rises in the coming months. Well done to you both!
From the wool warehouses of Melbourne to the dry paddocks of New South Wales, where two Grain YFC have connected to help each other’s farm businesses prosper through the drought.
Narromine based YFC Keiley O’Brien and Cowra farmer and YFC Marlee Langfield met at their first YFC development workshop in Sydney in 2016. Living, and running farm business, hundreds of kilometres apart meant they didn’t run in the same circles, but this year when Marlee was looking for help with a job she didn’t have the machinery or expertise to do, she knew just who to call. We’ll let them tell the story….
KEILEY: I’ve been in the Art4Agriculture program as a Grains Industry Young Farming Champion since 2016, although where I live, we haven’t had any grain to farm at all this year. And to be honest, the last year or two before that have been touch and go as well. My partner Ross and I, alongside his parents, run our family owned business Noble’s Ag Contracting, based in Narromine, NSW.
We thought this drought would be over by now. We planned our upcoming wedding around it being over. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s continually getting worse. Skies like the one below show the harsh reality, that this drought is worse than anything we have experienced before. I’m not certain if it is the worst in history, who am I to make that call!? But it certainly is the worst in our history. And living in it is hard.
Just about every morning you can find me out of the house at 6AM on my walk around the property that we live on. I’ve found the daily ritual of walking the best way to start my day, but lately it’s moved from positive to negative, as the paddocks and grass around me, which would usually be looking lush at this time of year, are truly dry and dead.
It’s a slap in the face each morning that our business will struggle to make an income this year. Without anything growing in those paddocks, there is nothing for us to harvest or bale for hay. We certainly aren’t alone in this situation, especially within our area, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.
We have also lost access to all of our irrigation water, as we pump from the Macquarie River and it is currently at a record low. This means that our irrigated Lucerne enterprise will halt this year, with no water to grow a crop. We also run the risk of our established Lucerne crops dying off due to lack of water and predicted extreme heat over summer.
Financially, this is a worry – especially when some of our irrigation infrastructure is new and still requires repayments. Emotionally, it’s sad to sit back and not be able to do anything about it, like turn the pivot on to keep the crop thriving and an income streaming in. But that’s drought.
It has been dry and bare for a couple of years now. We decided from the start that as a couple of 20-odd year old’s with a young business and a young family that we’d push ourselves hard just to hang in there and get through this drought, and I believe we’ve done that bloody well to date. But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.
Until this drought hit, we had always been able to source enough work within a one hour radius of home. Now to keep things ticking over Ross is travelling up to seven hours away for hay contracting work. That means plenty of nights apart. Plenty of meals eaten on their own. Plenty of missed family moments and those typical ‘how’s your day been’ conversations. It’s also been filled with plenty of questions from Ruby, our two-year-old, asking where her dad is.
We have been lucky to have some good friends and industry connections who have helped us out by giving us hay cutting jobs throughout this tough time. As hard as travelling long distances and working away from home can be, we are extremely grateful for these opportunities.
One friend, who has helped us by letting us help them, is fellow YFC Marlee Langfield and her fiancé Andrew Gallagher at Wallaringa, Cowra.
MARLEE: Andrew and I made the decision to cut all our 2019 canola crop for hay. Of course, this was not the original plan. Normally we would harvest the canola in November for seed and it would be sold to companies that would press the seeds for oil and use the byproducts for animal feed. However, due to the drought and the significant lack of rain on the spring forecast, the tough decision had to be made.
Growing canola for oil consists of waiting until flowering is finished (late September) and the plants then “pod up” forming seeds in the pods. Once 60 percent of the seed in the pods has changed colour the canola is ready for windrowing (cutting) and is then laid in rows on top of the stalks in the paddock to dry out, before harvesting the seed 10 days to two weeks later. But cutting Canola for hay must occur during the flowering stage as this is when the crop is at peak biomass…perfect for hay! Thus, the decision to make hay has to be made early in the growing season.
As we don’t normally aim to make hay, we lack the necessary machinery to do so. I’d seen on Nobles Ag contracting website they had the correct hay equipment and knowledge. Ross was keen and able to help, so the business relationship started from there.
What seemed like endless hectares of cutting, re-conditioning, raking, baling and stacking (add some sleepless nights in there too) later, we have hay!
Andrew and I are really appreciative to Nobels Ag Contracting for their professional hay making services. We now have a quality product ready to sell!
Out of the Field
Grains YFC Calum Watt attended the Fresh Science program in Perth last week and says it was a really valuable experience, training with TV, radio and industry engagement. Calum’s highlight was trying to present the crux of his research (on barley and wheat, hence the beer in hand below) in the time in takes a sparkler to run out of puff, which is about 30 seconds: “Tough!”
Wool YFC and Local Lands Service Biosecurity officer Lucy Collingridge and NFF 2030 Leader and Lego Farmer Aimee Snowdon caught up at the Cootamundra Show… along with Channel Seven’s Weekend Sunrise weather presenter James Tobin who opened the show.
Wool YFC Lucy is the social media and website manager, chief Merino steward and chief steward of the fleece Young Judges Competition, as well as stewarding in other sections as needed. Aimee Snowden attended as an ASC Next Generation Group 9 Delegate and helped with the Young Judges Competitions and beef cattle stewarding.
With string numbers of sheep and cattle exhibited, it was a real booster for the local agricultural industry in a time of hardship. Friday featured more than 100 school aged youth competing in the Young Judges Competitions for fleece, Merino, grains, fruit and veg, meat breed sheep and beef cattle. Lucy and Aimee both helped coordinate these events, which sees one or two students from each group final competition become eligible to compete at the state finals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
YFC Marlee Langfield caught up with Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke at her local show on the October long weekend. Marlee is an active member of the Morongla Show and admin of the show’s facebook page. She said “It was an absolute fantastic day where traditions were celebrate and memories made.”
Our friends the NFF 2030 Leaders caught up at the National Farmers Federation’s 40th Birthday Celebrations last week.
YFC Martin Murray and Tegan Nock also attended and graduated from the 2019 cohort of the 2030 NFF Leaders Program.
Coming up Out of the Field
Eggs and Poultry YFC Jasmine Whitten and Wool YFC Melissa Henry are both crossing the state to attend the Landcare Forum in Broken Hill at the end of the month. Melissa will be attending with her Local Lands Services group and the Saving the Superb Parrot project, which is up for an award. Good luck Mel.
Climate YFC Anika Molesworth is heading to the icy cold of Antarctica mid November as part of Homeward Bound. She’s busy doing lots of preparation, reading about Antarctica, doing homework of science communication and visibility, and organising warm clothes!
“Homeward Bound is a 12-month leadership program which culminates in a three-week intensive voyage to Antarctica. The initiative, turned global movement, aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in STEMM, in order to impact policy and decision making as it shapes our planet. “
Beef YFC Jasmine Green from Summit Livestock has been touring the country judging show cattle at shows in Melbourne and Launceston and if you’re heading to the Geelong Show this week you might catch her there too! Say hi if you see her.
Congratulations YFC Sally Downie! The Charles Sturt University student and dairy farmer has been named Australian Agricultural Student of the Year at the 2019 Farmer of the Year Awards. What an achievement! Well done Sally. Read more here.
Congratulations NFF 2030 Leader Matt Champness who has been named Novice Category winner of the Australian Farm Institute’s John Ralph Essay Competition on The Future of Animal Agriculture. Well done Matt!
And we’re very proud of friend of the YFC Greg Mills, from GoAhead Business Solutions, whose essay entry was also shortlisted in the open category and will be published in AFI’s November journal. Congratulations Greg!
Congratulations to Wool YFC Cassie Baile who has been named one if six finalists in the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association Ltd Awards.
We’re on the countdown to our 2019 Archibull Awards on the 19th November and celebrating this year’s excellent Archie entries over on the Picture You in Agriculture Facebook Page. Pop on over to see all our exciting news, including:
Voting is now open for the People’s Choice Award. Entries close 7th November 2019
🥁 EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT 🥁
The Young Farming Champions will be welcoming Costa Georgiadis Official as our special guest at the 2019 Archibull Prize awards!
#YouthinAg #YouthVoicesYFC #YouthVoices19 #YoungFarmingChampions #ArchieAction