Young Guns out in force at the NSW Farmers conference

It was great to see our very own Cotton Young Farming Champion Richie Quigley up on the stage at the NSW Farmers conference receiving his EL O’Brien memorial scholarship from Premier Barry O’Farrell

Barry OFarrell Richie Quigley Fiona Simson 

Premier Barry O’Farrell, Richie Quigley and Fiona Simson President of NSW Farmers 

Chair of the scholarship selection panel Sarah Thompson said the scholarships were one of the many benefits available to NSW Farmers families and she was pleased to award this year’s scholarships to a group of dedicated students who would play a strong role in agriculture and rural communities across NSW in the future. She said rural communities were currently demanding a variety of skills and this year’s scholarship recipients were studying a broad range of subjects from medicine to animal science, law and agriculture.

“It is important that NSW Farmers acknowledge the achievement of students across a broad range of subjects and the different ways in which these students are able to contribute to rural communities through their chosen field. Young skilled professionals are important for rural communities and the industries such as agriculture which support them.” Ms Thompson said

Also starring at the NSW Farmers’ conference was Beef Young Farming Champion (sponsored by NSW Farmers ) the pocket rocket that is Tegan Nock. As chair of the NSW Farmers Young Farmer Council Tegan wowed the audience with her speech delivery. 

 Tegan Nock 4660

Love those Green Apples hanging on the wall behind Tegan Nock

Here are a few excerpts from Tegan’s address to the 300 plus crown

This year has seen big changes for the Young Farmer membership base of the association, as the Young Farmers Council moves to target more specifically the needs of our members.

Late last year, our council set out to answer the questions of what our Young members want from a membership & how they can be best engaged with the greater Association.

Responses overwhelmingly focused on working to secure a support scaffold for those entering farming for the first time and the formation of a strong rural network offering access to practical information and opportunities to meet in both a professional and social capacity.

By addressing these needs, the Young Farmers Council hopes to attract and retain more youth in agriculture, support those entering farming in NSW, help to maintain sustainable rural communities and act as a succession plan for the association.

The Association has identified a need for our members to personally act as advocates for our industry.

As Australian agriculture increasingly comes under scrutiny from various groups in relation to environmental and welfare issues, we are finding that the ability to talk directly to consumers is continuing to grow with the popularity of social media as an information source.

Farmers are using social media to tell their own stories, and share the reasons behind our practices and industry decisions. This is beginning to provide some balance in the arguments which are more frequently calling for governmental policy that serves to impose further red tape on our businesses. This year it has been fantastic to see the number of people involved in Agriculture in NSW on various media platforms sharing positive farming stories.

NSW Young Farmers will continue to offer information and workshops on the use of social media as an advocacy tool, and welcome the Association’s support of the Art4Agriculture program, established by Mrs Lynne Strong, which offers young people from across Australia both training, and platforms to share positive stories about our industry, whilst encouraging others to consider a career in Agriculture.

The new Council in collaboration with the Armidale District Council hosted a Production Tour of the New England region in April, which highlighted innovative efficiencies in grazing, livestock and wool production. This initiative drew members and non-members from across the State, and provided an insight into the latest research from The University of New England, and some of the most productive farming businesses within the region.

The event was credit to Council members Joanna Newton and David Gale, and the Armidale District Council.

In the wake of the Armidale tour, the Council received a large number of requests for an event based in the south of the state. The Council, in collaboration with the Cootamundra District Council is currently in planning stages for an event that will focus on the business side of farming, anticipating topics such as Business structure & start-up, farm leasing & share farming options, and small business finance, taxation & law.

The Young farmers are also working on forming strategic collaborations with other groups within the state to increase our membership base and offer greater access to service & events. The Young Farmers have worked with the Royal Agricultural Society Youth Group over the year, and are set to continue this partnership into the future.

We believe that together our Young Farmers can achieve our vision of ensuring the longevity of a dynamic, sustainable, prosperous and respected food & fibre sector.

I grow Cotton and you wear it – Meet Richie Quigley

My name is Richie Quigley and farming is in my blood and I couldn’t be happier about that

clip_image002

Growing up on our family farm in Trangie, the Macquarie valley, Central Western NSW I have been involved in agriculture as long as I remember.

Our farm “Muntham”, has been in our family for 125 years and my brothers Tom and George and I will be fifth generation farmers

We are lucky enough to have both an irrigation and dryland farming business and grow 500 Ha of cotton as well as about 2200ha of winter crops which include wheat, canola, and chickpeas. We also have 1500 breeding ewes and 150 breeding cows.

clip_image004

Most of our childhood photos are of my two brothers and me outside playing in the dirt and the mud pushing around toy tractors (more often than not with no clothes on), maintaining our miniature interpretation of our family farm in our veggie patch. The fence still bears the scars from when we cut it as we ‘bought’ more land (much to mums delight). As we grew older, our passion for farming grew when we were able to move from our “Tonka” farm to outside the fence with dad.

A typical busy week on the farm can include spraying to keep fallow paddocks weed free, sowing crops, spraying for weeds in the crop with selective herbicides, spreading fertiliser, harvesting, ground preparation for cotton, irrigating cotton, planning crop rotations, animal husbandry, and general farm maintenance and mechanics.

All of us had the opportunity to go away to boarding school. This opened the doors to so many opportunities and experiences (considering the local school had about 6 students in each year), but was often seen as an inconvenience as holidays and harvest never seemed to line up completely!

A highlight of my school life happened in my final year when I was lucky enough to be selected and represent Australia in the “Australia A” Schools Rugby Union. This was an amazing opportunity that I am confident may not happened if I didn’t have the chance to attend boarding school.

scots-boys-l-r-jacob-woodhouse-greg-peterson-richie-quigley

After finishing school, I had a gap year working at home before heading to university.

I made this choice to gain strong foundation hands on experience that would allow me to relate my future studies back to practices and principles that are currently used or could possibly be used on our own farm. My gap year reinforced that my future lay with farming and how much agriculture has to offer and working outside is so much better than a class room or an office.

There are so many career options available, and so many job opportunities. I am currently studying Science in agriculture and will major in agronomy – which the link between scientific research and primary producers, and am very much interested in the production side of agriculture. I want to grow it.

To assist with my university studies and access a diverse array of opportunities I applied for and was lucky enough to win a Horizon Scholarship.

My sponsor is Woolworths, and as part of the program the students spend two weeks of industry placement with their sponsor. My placement saw me spending two weeks in Woolworths head office, working with the fresh food department. It was an eye opening experience to see what happens to our produce after it leaves the farmgate and the sheer volume of food that is distributed by one of our major supermarkets as well as their commitment to quality.

Woolworths is also a major sponsor of the Australian Year of the Farmer, and I was invited to the launch of Australian Year of the Farmer last October as representative of the young farmers of our nation. This was an experience I will never forget. One which saw me meet and mix with a number of very influential and inspiring people including Andrew Forrest, the Governor General and Glenn and Sara McGrath to name just a few

alison-and-team

Australian Year of the Farmer launch October 2011

In particular I found the following excerpt from Quentin Bryce’s speech compelling

The Year of the Farmer purpose is to celebrate all those who contribute – and have contributed – to our rich rural history. In doing so, it will introduce Australians to the farmer of today, and smash a few stereotypes in the process.

In the world of the 21st century farmer, we find people who are environmentally-aware, innovative, tertiary-educated, global, entrepreneurial and collegiate.

Primary producers today are a different breed to their parents and grandparents.

The love of the land is still deeply ingrained, but to make money – and they must be profitable to survive – they have become masters of numerous skills, and technologically adept.

They understand land and water management, laser levelling, remote sensing, GPS management, conservation agriculture, organics, biodynamics and, overall, their role in national and global food security.

Perhaps these are new labels for traditional concepts, but today’s farmers employ cutting edge technology that would baffle office workers in the cities.

Technology is powering Australia’s farming future.

I encourage all Australians to join in the celebrations next year; to take the opportunity to leave the cities, and learn how our farmers underpin our economy.

They are leaders, and we can learn much from that leadership.

The Year of the Farmer is a wonderful opportunity for all Australians to better understand, and value, the part farmers play in our health and well-being and prosperity.

Each and every day. We simply couldn’t live without them!

Another highlight of my Horizon Scholarship has been the recent opportunity to attend the 16th Australian Cotton Conference thanks to the generosity of Cotton Australia. The conference was a great opportunity to meet a large number of people in the cotton industry and hear a number of presentations from leaders in the industry on current issues and new innovative ideas for the future of the industry.

Agriculture is an easy choice for me, as it is a lifestyle as well as a job. It’s the feeling of having an office outside, and every day working with natural elements to produce food and fibre, feeding and clothing the people all around the world.

I challenge you to have a look at a career in agriculture, as the people anywhere in the agricultural industry will give you a go if they can see you’re interested in learning. It’s dynamic industry that is constantly evolving and changing trying to continue to feed and clothe the growing hungry world.