Young Farming Champion Lucy Collingridge shares her 28th Commonwealth Agriculture Conference experience

Picture this. It is snowing, the temperature is -12*C and it is October. You are wearing business clothes and heading to a conference, using a yellow school bus to get from your hotel to the conference venue. Over 70 young people, all under the age of 40, have congregated to discuss the future of agriculture, agriculture events and the challenges facing agricultural communities across the world. Where are you? You are at the 2018 Royal Agricultural Societies of the Commonwealth (RASC) conference in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada!

On the 27th October 2018 I flew out of Sydney on a 15 hour flight destined for Canada. As a recipient of a scholarship from the Agricultural Societies Council of New South Wales, I was heading to the 28th Commonwealth Agriculture Conference as an Australian delegate. But, first things first, I spent a few days traveling around Banff and Lake Louise taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Rocky Mountains. For only the second time in my life, I was experiencing snow falling and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

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Peyto Lake. –  Can you see the dogs head? I had a stunning snow day to view Peyto Lake, Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon and the Bow Valley Parkway!

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Before the tour and conference started, I added a few extra days of sightseeing through the Rocky Mountains. I enjoyed a snow day and here I am on my way down the hill from viewing Peyto Lake.

After a 4 hour drive from Banff to Edmonton, it was time to meet the team that would make up the pre-conference tour contingent. A group of around 50 people of varying ages and backgrounds, from various countries and having various connections to agriculture made up the group of keen agriculturalists. We were privileged to visit some fantastic enterprises throughout the  tour and meet some innovating and exciting people. On the first day visited a beef farm that calves down around 500 cows in the height of the Canadian winter and utilises a barn to assist with their winter nights that can reach -40*C.

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The pre-conference tour contingent at Lewis Farms

Following our property visit, we were able to tour the only plant in Canada that produces beef patties for McDonald’s burgers. Over 3 million patties are made on site every day and they all contain 100% Canadian beef. Following this stop, we had lunch at McDonald’s to sample the burgers made from the patty’s we had just seen. A quick trip to Jasper for some tourist activities, including a swim in the hot springs, a private tour of on the Jasper Sky Tram, an evening with the Jasper Planetarium and lunch at the Fairmont Hotel with lake and mountain views.

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Some of the pre-conference tour contingent enjoying the snow at the top of the Jasper Skytram. For a few of the Aussies, it was the first time seeing snow. Although we couldn’t see the spectacular views, we made up for it with snow angels, snow ball fights and trying to slide down the hill!! Our snow day in Jasper was an awesome bonding experience for the group and helped to create some special friendships which not only lasted the length of the conference but for many years to come.

The second tour day included a trip to visit a $50 million, farmer owned, fruit and vegetable wholesaler who source produce from across North and Central America. The farmers who own the business receive market price for their produce sold through the business during the year, then a percentage of profit at the end of the year. Following this, we attended the Rock Ridge Dairy, where 900 goats are milked every day in a specialised milking barn. Along with the home grown milk, the family buys in local milk to produce a range of goats and cow’s milk and soft cheeses.

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Dueces Greenhouses. Here we have a new section of cucumbers that have been in the system a few small weeks.

The afternoon was spent at Deuces Greenhouses where 11ac of Greenhouses allow the family owned business to produce summer vegetables in the height of the Canadian winter, and therefore attract high premiums during periods of low supply and high demand. Our last day of the pre-tour featured the Canadian grains industry, with a trip to Galloway Seeds, a family owned seed cleaning business. Cleaning around 18t of grain per hour, and removing over 99% of impurities, the company has mastered the 4 step cleaning process.

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John Deere, the international symbol for anything green! This big rig was parked up at Galloway Seeds.  

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One bank of the silos used at Galloway Seeds for storing grain before cleaning.

After lunch we visited the Rig Hand Distillery, a small company who are specialising in local grown alcohol. They source most of their inputs from within 20 miles of the distillery, and utilise local season produce such as potatoes, garlic, raspberries, wheat and beeswax. Each night after the tour, we would find ourselves at different functions and mingling with the delegates from across the globe. These connections will last us a lifetime and have not only provided holiday destinations around the world, but also provided links between people who wish to make global agriculture better!

The conference started with some sessions dedicated to the Next Generation contingent. We had presentations from a range of experts and agriculturalists around the world that opened up our way of thinking and strengthened our passion from sustainable agricultural production. We were challenged and motivated, encouraged and grew as professionals. One of the most interesting presentations for me was from Professor David Hughes, or as he is better known Dr. Food. A thought-provoking presentation from Dr. Food has had me thinking about the future of agriculture for the last 4 weeks, and I have added some thoughts below.

  • An increase in population of over 2 billion people by 2050, where 1.6 billion will be of Muslim or Hindu faith. What will these consumers prefer? What will be their protein of choice? What does this mean for our current, and future, farmers?
  • Africa will double population by 2050 (1 billion to 2 billion), and India, Bangladesh and Pakistan will increase by 0.5b each. Most Eastern European countries will decrease, so what impacts will this have on dynamics in-country? Who will care for their ageing?
  • Population growth is expected to be concentrated to cities. The 10th most populated city in China has the same GDP as the whole of Norway, or double that of NZ!
  • By 2050, China will be importing 6 million tonnes of animal products and 30% of global soy production. What does this mean for the rest of the world’s consumers? What impact will this have on protein demand worldwide?
  • Asian families typically sit down to a 12 course meal whereas westernised families sit down to meat and 3 veg. What does this mean for exporter’s worldwide? Do we need to put more emphasis on how our end consumer cooks and eats? What do they value? Just because chicken breast is the preferred cut in Australia doesn’t mean it is in any Asia country.
  • Protein sources. As producers and scientists, we see fish and red meat as two separate items. However consumers see them as competing protein sources. Should we be considering fish as a competing source when we market it as producers?
  • The future of food and protein. Are we moving to an era that sees red meat and fish take a step back to insects, meatless meat or maggots? Or will we see an increase in these products being used as a protein source for the animals that we use as a protein source?

The main conference joined the Next Generation delegates with the more senior delegates from across the globe. We heard from Princess Anne, and participated in sessions including:

  • Bees, Berries, Bars and Beer – young entrepreneurs who are forging their way in the agricultural industry in Canada
  • Management Show Topic – Managing the complexity of agricultural events on a large scale.
  • Bud Mercer – the future of special events. A perspective gained through the planning for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
  • Jeffery Fitzpatrick-Stilwell – Sustainability in beef and what it means for McDonald’s from a sourcing and processing perspective.
  • Social License Agriculture – Advocacy for agriculture. Should we protect people from the unpleasant or show the whole agricultural industry as it stands?
  • Agritainment panel – From the Calgary Stampede in Canada to the Kranji Countryside Association in Singapore, we learned how different dynamics lead to different methods of keeping crowds engaged and entertained
  • Peterson Farm Brothers – How using parodies of well-known songs can create opportunities to educate the world on agriculture and farming

The opportunity to attend the RASC Agricultural Conference in Edmonton, Canada, has reinvigorated my passion for agriculture and agricultural events. It has provided me with networks across the globe, containing people from all backgrounds and all ages. The conference introduced me to a range of experts and entrepreneurs who are forging their own path in global agriculture, and they have encouraged me that I have the ability to achieve my aims in agriculture. I have established connections in Australia, and look forward to working with more young people across our country, for example strengthening the connection of the youth committees of the RAS of NSW and RASV.

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A group of Next Generation Delegates – including agriculturalists from Australia, England, Wales and New Zealand! “

If anyone would like to know any more on the RASC Agricultural Conference or my experiences in Canada, I am more than happy to have a chat.

Young Farming Champions Muster September 2018 Week 4

This week’s top stories from Young Farming Champions around the country.

In the field

In Marrar, NSW, Grains YFC and fifth generation farmer Daniel Fox is trying something daring this week, sowing chickpeas for the first time. Best of luck, Dan

 

Our resident YFC “Meat Doctor” Steph Fowler is moving into the next phase of her merino genetics trial, with 600 lambs processed and sampled for meat quality traits. Steph says it will be a while yet before the samples are processed but it’s exciting to have all the samples finally collected for the year! Can’t wait to hear these results, Steph.

Grains YFC Keiley O’Brien has kicked off this years hay making season, giving a canola crop the chop in Narromine, NSW. Fingers crossed for a good season ahead!
Keiley hay making

Out of the Field

Wool YFC and Youth Voices Leadership Committee chair Dr Jo Newton has spent the weekend at the Royal Melbourne Show, stewarding for the White Suffolk, Suffolk & South Suffolk Judging. Jo says, “Being a steward is a bit like being a secretary for the judge who is in charge of assessing the animals. At the MelbShow we used a tablet to record the results for each class, make sure owners (& judge) know what animals are needed in the judging ring as well as announcing results on the microphone.” If you’re at the Melbourne show this week make sure you pass by the Sheep Shed and say G’day to Jo!

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“This is a class of Lincoln ewes in the next ring to the one I was looking after. The lambs had a great time frolicking in the ring while their mums where being assessed,” Jo says.

YFC and Green Globe Awards Finalist Anika Molesworth has hit the radio waves again with a great interview on Hit 99.7 Riverina. Anika has been working to make NSW a more eco-friendly place to live, and she joined the show to talk to Claire & Sam about how she feels about being nominated for an Award. Take a listen here

Anika was also featured on the Weekly Times this week, talking about farming in outback NSW,  championing for climate action and her PhD work. This is a lovely insight into a wonderful ag champion. Well done Anika! Read it here

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#YouthVoices18 #YouthinAg #Farmersforclimateaction

The famous Henty Machinery Field Days were on this week and Wool YFC Dione Howard and Rice YFC Erika Heffer were both there. Dione and fellow vets from Riverina and Murray Local Land Services were answering animal health and biosecurity questions over the three days, while Erika was in the Landcare shed.

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It was a busy week in the office for Dione who then headed to the Hay Sheep Sale on Wednesday, where approximately 47,000 sheep were sold. Dione says many properties were selling large numbers of sheep due to the ongoing dry conditions.

Dione and Chloe

Dione ran into fellow YFC Chloe Dutschke at the sale who had travelled from Tupra station, where she has been contracting for the last couple of months. Great pic, ladies!

Cotton YFC Sharna Holman is super keen to be heading to “Go Ahead” Greg Mills‘s extension workshop in Townsville next week, as part of the Australasia-Pacific Extension Network 2018 Roadshow. Greg is a consultant on all things agribusiness extension, was the Kondinin Group and ABC Rural 2017 Consultant of the Year, and is a great friend of the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions program. We have no doubt you’ll have a great day and take home many valuable insights Sharna!

Prime Cuts

Well done to Grains YFC Dee George (front left) who has been touring the Royal Melbourne Show this week in her role as a Victorian Rural Ambassador State Finalist. #YouthinAg #RoyalMelbourneShow

Dee at Melb Show

And congrats to YFCs Sharna Holman and Alexandria Galea #teamcotton who were both recently elected to the Wincott – Women in Cotton committee, Sharna as communications officer and Alexandria as a regional representative for Central Queensland. Check out these great introductions to Sharna and Alexandria on the Wincott facebook page.

Lifetime Highlights

Massive milestone moment right now for University of New England students, Poultry YFC Jasmine Whitten and Wool YFC Emma Turner, who both have their honours seminars today.

Jasmine’s honours is investigating the effect of environmental enrichment on fearfulness of pullets (young layer hens). Emma’s honours studies the implementation of shorter shearing intervals. Huge congratulations for all the hard work and time you’ve both put into reaching these milestones. Enjoy this moment!

Exciting times ahead for Cattle and Sheep YFC and Rabobank graduate Felicity Taylor who has just received a promotion as a Rabobank Rural Officer. Felicity will spent the next two months in the Netherlands working in Rabobank’s Global Food and Agriulture Sector, supporting multinational agribusinesses, as part of her current graduate position before moving back to her hometown of Moree, NSW, to begin her new position. Mega congrats Felicity!

Felicity Taylor

#YouthinAg #YouthVocies18 #ArchieAction

_2018 A4ASponsors_foremail

Crawford Fund Scholarships Now Open for Application

The Crawford Fund do wonderful things right across the world and attending their conferences via scholarships has been an inspiration for many of our Young Farming Champions to undertake STEM  career pathways and social and environmental justice research. We highly commend their conference to young peopleHere is what you need to know. Source  

Are you passionate about food and nutrition security or have an interest in agricultural research and development? Would you like to explore opportunities for related careers, research, volunteering or employment? Are you under 35yo and in Victoria, Tasmania, WA, SA, ACT or NSW?

We have an opportunity for you! The Crawford Fund has launched its conference scholarships as part of its efforts to encourage young people in their study, careers and volunteering in international agricultural research.

You are strongly encouraged to seek out this opportunity to attend our annual conference in Canberra and experience two half days of activities including mentoring and learning about opportunities in agriculture for development.

Former scholars are overwhelmingly positive about their conference scholarship experience, seeing it as an invaluable mentoring, networking and motivational experience in the field of agricultural development.

In their words

“Mentoring and networking was exemplary, highly enriching and rewarding,” Samuel Ariong, NSW scholar.

“I left Canberra feeling like I had made leaps in my knowledge of research opportunities overseas, agricultural research targeted to development and developed a strong and invaluable network of esteemed researchers,” Maddison Clonan, NT scholar.

“I think the most valuable part of the conference was the scholar days. It was an excellent opportunity to get advice from people in a range of positions with different experiences. We heard everything from broad motivational career advice to specific recommendations on how to network and apply for jobs,” Sarah Sutcliffe, QLD scholar.

“The best thing, and rather quite unique one, in this conference was the idea of mentorship…I liked this idea a lot, as this not only provided a focused and quick learning environment but also the opportunity of networking through your mentor,” Salman Sarwar, QLD scholar.

The positive feedback we received from last year’s Scholars is available here.

About the program

The scholars are involved in two ½ days of activities in addition to the conference; engage with keynote speakers, experienced Australian agricultural researchers and educators, and other passionate young people who have experience overseas in developing countries as researchers, volunteers or mentors.

The scholarships are awarded through our State and Territory programs, with conference registration fees and reasonable transport, food and accommodation costs covered by the award.

Full details on eligibility and the application process are here.

The application process is simple!

Our 2018 conference

Our conference this year runs over 13 and 14 August in Canberra and is titled “Reshaping Agriculture for Better Nutrition – The Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, Health Nexus”.

Currently there are still 815 million people chronically undernourished. Simultaneously, the number of obese people has reached approximately 1 billion. This key national food security event will ask: “how can we feed and nourish the world’s increasing population with a diet that promotes good health and at the same time minimises further environmental impact?

Dr Alessandro Demaio, CEO of the Eat Foundation is perhaps better known in Australia as co-host of the ABC television show Ask the Doctor or for his recent Business for Peace discussion with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. He will be joined by others including Dr Jessica Fanzo, Co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report from John Hopkins; Professor Glenn Denning from the Earth Institute and Colombia University;  Dr Marco Wopereis, Director General, World Vegetable Center; Dr Andrew Campbell, CEO, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, and a range of researchers presenting case studies of impact for nutrition security in PNG, Timor Leste, East Africa and Bangladesh.

To learn more about the program, see:

Applications or questions can be directed to the Crawford Fund Coordinator for your State/Territory.

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