Why young farmers are passionate about agriculture 

Published: September 2019 I By: Ellouise Bailey 

Meet the fresh generation of motivated NSW Young Farmers who will be the future leaders of food and fibre production in the agriculture industry.
 

From far left: Brett Fitzpatrick, Joanna Treasure, Charlotte Groves, Rachel Nicoll, Caitlin Langley, Martin Murray, Carolina Merriman and Hannah Cargill.
YOUNG farmers proved they have what it takes at the NSW Farmers annual conference. Martin Murray, newly-elected deputy chair of the Association’s Young Farmer Council, moved a motion to lobby the government to support research and development of alternative power sources for tractors and machinery to meet current technologies. It received an overwhelming ‘yes’ vote from the conference.

The new chair of the Young Farmer Council, Rachel Nicoll, says, “Young farmers are trying to think futuristically and we are aiming to bring that policy up through the Association. We want to remove some of the barriers young people are facing. 

“More people would have an appetite if they had easier financial access, for example, which would give them licence to go out and give farming a go. We want to bring the issues impacting young farmers back to the Association,” she says. 

Rachel thanked outgoing chair Tim Carroll for his work over the past four years. Under Tim’s leadership, NSW Young Farmers’ membership grew significantly, it secured ongoing funding from the Young Farmer Business Program and successfully lobbied for low-interest loans for first-time farmers from the federal government.
 
The newly-elected Young Farmer Council, which represents the NSW Young Farmers members, also includes Tim Carroll (Cudal), Meg Rice (Canberra), Tom Matthews (Grenfell), Brendan Murray (Coleambally), Hannah Cargill (Armidale) and Nathan Hatty (Matong).

Last month, Young Farmers members received advocacy and policy training to learn how to represent the young farming community, and brushed up on their media skills during a workshop with NSW Farmers’ staff. The Farmer treated them to a professional photo shoot (results above) so their social media posts will look the part.

Rachel Nicoll, 33, Hampton  

 
  • Young Farmer Council chair
  • Hartley branch chair
  • Rural Affairs Committee member
 

Rachel’s first farm job was as an apprentice gate opener.

The farm has been in the family since 1955 and I feel particularly lucky to have grown up on it. My first job on the farm was probably apprentice gate opener (which still occurs today!). I feel very fortunate to be able to fuse my passions with my professional world. On our farm you’ll find a rich, eclectic assortment – free-range eggs, horticulture, beef cattle, chestnuts, olives and berries, as well as an experimentation of herbs, garlic and feijoas. Most days I get up early, decide what I’ll focus on for the day and importantly what I want to achieve. If I’m not out getting my hands dirty, you’ll probably find me with my head in a computer or listening to a podcast. 
 
 
EARLIEST FARMING MEMORY

My fondest memory would have to be coming home from school and bingeing on berries. Nothing tastes better or healthier than fresh produce you’ve grown yourself and just picked straight from the ground. Enjoying fresh produce is always an experience to share with those around you. A close second would have to be trying to hatch chickens by sitting on eggs. 

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

No idea! An answer would be too conventional because it would mean missing out on some of the most extraordinary interactions and boundary-pushing innovations to come. I have a keen interest in putting my hand up and understanding changes in the wider world that will impact on plans and objectives and I work best when there is a fair degree of problem solving or creativity involved. I have developed an absolute resolve that whatever we’re doing, it’s for the “we” – our achievements are that much more significant when we’re in it together.

 



Martin Murray, 26, Yelarbon 

  • Young Farmer Council deputy chair
  • Grains Committee member
 

Martin grew up on his family’s NSW rice and sheep property.

Our family bought the farm in early 2015 with another family and have been running it as a share farming operation since then with a third party. It’s approximately 2,000 hectares of grazing country on the NSW border south of Yelarbon, Queensland. We run Dorper sheep and cattle. While I try to get there as often as I can, I work off farm as an agronomist with AMPS Agribusiness at Armatree [north of Dubbo] and am not involved in the day to day running of the farm. Like most people working in agriculture, my day can be quite varied. It usually ranges from checking crops and paddocks, to assisting our research team or working in the office going over yield maps.

EARLIEST FARMING MEMORY

My earliest farming memory would be from our rice and sheep property Kulki, between Darlington Point and Carrathool in the NSW Riverina. I would love to ride with dad in the tractor and help – or hinder – him in the sheep yards. I also remember watching the ag planes sow the rice.

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

Eventually I’d like to return to the farm our family co-owns or I would like to have and run my own farm. I would quite like to be in the region of Armatree if that was the case, because it’s an area with a lot of potential. More broadly, I’d like to see agriculture continue to grow and develop as an industry and allow Australia to continue to be a world leader. 
 



Caitlin Langley, 31, Boorooma  

  • Ag Science Committee Young Farmers representative 
 
 
Growing up, Caitlin spent holidays on ranches in Colorado.
 
I grew up spending weekends and summers on ranches in Colorado, United States. My family owned a small farm before we moved to Australia and settled in Sydney. After finishing school, I was keen to get back to wide open spaces so I decided to study in Wagga Wagga. Since moving back to the country I’ve spent time working as a jillaroo in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia, and as a stockwoman at Australia’s biggest feedlot based near Yanco, NSW. During my Agricultural Sciences degree, I worked on a local Hereford cattle stud farm, which I loved and learned a lot from. Since graduating I’ve spent more time in a research environment. I’m currently working in entomology to record the prevalence of different insect species on farms around the Riverina.  

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EARLIEST FARMING MEMORY

My first time driving an F-truck was when I was no older than 10. My neighbours were loading hay onto the back of the trailer. I have many fond memories of helping on the farm and moving cattle while riding my horse. It was good to feel useful and like I was contributing to the jobs that needed doing.

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

That we can create solutions allowing us to adapt to the changing demands for protein and fibre in Australia and the world at large. It is my goal to be able to better inspire, inform and lead the next generation of farmers into a more efficient and environmentally sustainable way of farming that ensures a prosperous future to support our vibrant rural communities.  



Joanna Treasure, 22, Cowra 

  • Cattle Committee member
  • Biosecurity Committee Young Farmers representative
 

Budding fifth-generation farmer Joanna on her bike.
 
My Dad has been farming for 40 years and I follow in his footsteps as a fifth-generation farmer. Our business comprises 728ha across Woodstock, Cowra and Billimari. We’re a mixed farming enterprise and produce second-cross lambs, Black Angus cattle, as well as scratching in a few grazing crops and improved pastures each year. Dad and I have made a great team since 2016, when I gave farm work a try and decided to stay instead of heading off to uni. At the moment I caretake a 688ha property called Clunes for a large Black Angus beef enterprise in Cowra, but I look forward to working with my best mate Dad the most. 

EARLIEST FARMING MEMORY

As odd as it sounds, some of my favourite memories are of days when everything has gone wrong. Those days remind me that I love farming, even when it makes me miserable. One day I was working in the shed with a busted-up knee from falling off my bike and landing on a rock the day before. The dog wouldn’t work for me and Dad was busy dealing with a cow who had decided the creek would be a good place to start calving, so I was already having a frustrating day running the shed. At the end of the last run, I hit my head on the roof while I was penning up and bumped a paper-wasp nest. I remember riding the bike home with tears in my eyes, two bright red ears and a big smile on my face. I’m either insane or a farmer through and through.

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HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

My ultimate goal is to become the most productive, ethical and profitable farmer I can be. I’m particularly interested in exploring sheep and cattle genetics for optimum efficiency, as well as focusing on branding and marketing in the future. 
 



Carolina Merriman, 25, Yass

  • Yass branch chair


Carolina has always enjoyed every aspect of farming life.

Our farm is a mixed-grazing, fourth-generation farm and family-run property at Yass. When there is work to be done, there are no excuses of who can and can’t work. All the family participates when needed. The property is approximately 1,214ha and it’s very beautiful and undulating country with many hills and scrubby paddocks, as well as lots of wildlife. We are very lucky to have our property that connects to Burrinjuck Dam. We grow super-fine Merino sheep and breed Angus cattle. My day usually starts early, which is no trouble for my 16-month-old daughter. Much like me, she loves every aspect of the farming life. There is always a long list of daily jobs to be done and it is a matter of ticking them off and finishing when all the jobs are done. 

EARLIEST FARMING MEMORY

Shearing in the wool shed, with the shearers and the wool press singing as we pushed the wool into bales. There were always stories to be told, jokes passed around the shed and games to play. It is usually a very busy but lively time for us. The sheep are usually vaccinated or drenched when we are shearing so we don’t have to bring them in all the time.

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

I had dreamed of being manager of our second family farm at Parkes, but that is no longer possible because we were one of the many stories of the Banking Royal Commission. The bank took our Parkes farm and we had to sub-divide the farm at Yass. As it can no longer support the whole family, I have had to redirect my passion, and I am now focusing on supporting our future farmers and our new decade of the agricultural industry. My dream is to be a voice for farmers and the rural communities. I want to help farmers when they need support and provide a connection between farmers. I hope to support the agricultural industry to hit its $100 billion mark in 2030, and to help develop young farmers who are wanting to take the responsibility and pursue their agriculture careers.

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Hannah Cargill, 19,Braidwood 

  • New England Young Farmers branch chair
  • Young Farmer Council member
  • Sheepmeats Committee member
 

Hannah was raised on the family’s sheep and cattle property.
 
My family has owned our property since 1929, I am the fourth generation. Our 
property is located at Braidwood. We live on 607ha, running stud and commercial Angus cattle, a small Border Leicester stud and prime lamb production. A day on our property is usually pretty busy. Our days are filled with livestock work which varies on the time of year. Any spare time I have is spent doing property maintenance. 

EARLIEST FARMING MEMORY

When I was younger, our family joined a program called Farm Day. Every year we would host a family from Sydney or Canberra for the day. We would give the family a tour of the farm and show them what we do. These days were always really fun as we got to show our passion to people who didn’t have a large knowledge of what happens on a property or might not know where their food is produced.

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

When I finish my Bachelor of Agriculture and Business at the University of New England, I hope to move into a job liaising with producers in the industry. I hope to help bridge the age gap in the agricultural industry, while working to incorporate new and improved technologies into the industry. I’d also love to encourage the new generations and people living in urban areas to learn more about the industry and where their food and fibre is produced.
 


RELATED ARTICLE: Dairy farmers teach younger generation about agriculture 
 
Charlotte Groves, 20, Cowra 

  • Animal Welfare Committee Young Farmers representative

 
Charlotte taking charge of her brother Oliver’s pony.

My parents bought our property Glenwyck in 1993, and we have called it home ever since. I have worked on the farm from the time of my first harvest as chaser-bin driver in 2013, when I was on summer holidays from boarding school. I still help out over uni breaks and on weekends I’m home. It is a family-run farm, with both Mum and Dad being full-time farmers. It is a mixed enterprise property, with approximately 1,300 first-cross ewes, 50 Angus beef cattle and a variety of crops including wheat, oats and canola. I try and get back to the farm at busy times of the year like the harvest, hay and shearing seasons. 

EARLIEST FARMING MEMORY

That would probably be harvest time when I was around three or four years old. As a curious farm kid, I always wanted to either be in or around the big machines like tractors, trucks and headers. My earliest memory on the farm is me sitting up in the truck carting grain for the year and going back and forth to the silo just near the boundary of Glenwyck. I loved it! I wasn’t allowed to get out at the silo, but instead I would stand up on the seat and poke my head out the window to get a better look. Right up until Dad decided I was capable enough to drive the chaser bin, I would spend days on end in the truck, and loved it as much as the header or any other job.

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

When I finish my Bachelor of Education I would like to work in primary or secondary education, in a rural or remote school. One of the things I would really like to do is contribute to food and fibre education in Australian schools. Through my studies at university in education, I have been able to spend time in loads of classrooms, with a variety of students of different ages and backgrounds. In order for agriculture to continue to grow, we need to have allies all over the country, who are educated in the effort it takes for food and fibre to be produced. As a pre-service teacher, this is what I hope to contribute to agriculture and farming in the future. 
 


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Brett Fitzpatrick, 36, Hazelgrove 

  • Oberon branch chair
 

Brett loved helping his  late father, Greg, on their family farm.

I suppose I had a pretty different childhood to other kids. I had a motorbike that I used to ride all around the property and I started riding as a young fella. The farm I’m on now has been in my family for five generations. It started off as a land grant, which they gave out to convicts after they were released. This property was given to my great-great-grandfather. I currently own about 485ha out here and run sheep and cattle. I would like to keep the land as it is and not sell off any more land, to be more productive in the future. 

EARLIEST FARMING MEMORY

I’ve always been around farming so it’s hard to pinpoint an exact memory, but I can always remember feeding the sheep on the family farm. I also would have been around three years old when I first started lamb marking, which was a lot of work. 

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

At the moment I have to supplement my on-farm income through running my own contracting business. Through my business I manage a lot of small farms for absentee landholders who usually live in the city. In the future I would like to be able to have a sustainable farm business without needing any off-farm income. I have a five-month-old daughter and I see a really bright future for her in either agriculture or as a veterinarian like my wife. 
 


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