Agriculture…is like an onion…it has lots of layers!

Today’s guest blog comes from Liz Lobsey, a very exciting young lady introduced to the exciting and diverse world of careers in agriculture whilst at school

Hi, my name is Liz Lobsey and I am 26 years old.


I’m an agronomist by day, and a closet agriculture advocate, also commonly referred to as an agvocate the rest of the time. I am a firm believer in the agriculture industry and it is not only my occupation, but it is also my passion.


On top of this I am lucky enough to I live in Toowoomba in sunny Queensland

Now, I’d like you to think about this.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about agriculture?

  • Livestock?
  • Crops?
  • Food?
  • Clothing?

Fair enough but these are stereotype images. To me agriculture is so much more than the food you put in your mouth or the clothes you wear on your back clip_image004

When I think about agriculture I think about people


I think about innovation


I think about passion and commitment


It wasn’t always this way When I first started high school and found out I had to do agriculture in year 7 the first thing I wanted to do was run away and hide. This was because my perception of what agriculture actually is was completely wrong. I thought of agriculture as dirty and, to be honest, boring; not something I was really looking forward to having to do. However, when I actually started learning about what it involved, my passion for agriculture surfaced and I have never looked back.

I’m not from your typical farming family, in fact, you could probably refer to me as a townie. My family connection to the land is minimal. But my passion for the industry is enormous! I have pottered about, I have studied a different degree, I even sat in an office for a good 3 years, and it was then that I realised that agriculture was where I wanted to be. So, I went back to uni and started studying agronomy. Some might think that I am a glutton for punishment after completing 6 years of university going on to my 7th, which tends to be a running joke with my friends. But when asked why I wanted to study agronomy, by one of my friends, my response was thus.

How many jobs are there, where you can sit on the front veranda of your clients’ home, have a beer and talk about the day while watching the sunset?


Do you get the chance to watch a storm roll in over the flat black soil plains at your job?


Do you have laugh while you’re helping a grower pull out that silly agronomist who got the tractor bogged? (Yes, I am talking about myself).


Does your job give you the opportunity to actually have relationships with your clients where they become surrogate families?

How many jobs do you know of where you have the chance to be constantly learning new things?

How many jobs do you know of that are involved with an industry that is one of the most sustainable, innovative and productive in the world?

A lot of people will associate agriculture with long hours, hot dusty days, and a lot of hard work. And I will openly admit, it is a lot of hard work, and it can be dirty and dusty, on the other spectrum even muddy at times.

Muddy boots

But it is all part and parcel of the experience and I wouldn’t change a thing for the world.

I am involved in the cotton and grains industries and the growers I work with are some of the most innovative and passionate people I have ever met and most likely ever will know. Both of these industries are constantly looking for new ways to be sustainable while remaining productive. It is inspiring to me to be involved in industries where the industries themselves are making the active effort to be better at what they do and making a conscious effort to implement change and be on the front foot to avoid outside influences impacting on what they do and can achieve.


Earlier I mentioned when I think of agriculture, I think of passion and I strongly believe no matter what you are doing with you, life has little meaning unless you have passion for what you do.

Sadly I also believe that agriculture is a misunderstood industry; it is so much more than what you see on the surface. I was recently at a committee meeting where our vice-chairperson was describing her role as a farmer’s wife: she did the books, looked after the kids, fed the workers, drove the tractors and the list goes on. There is so much more involved with working on a farm or within the industry than what appears on the surface.

While agronomy is my primary job I also do business analysis and management; sometimes I am even a farmhand.  My boss constantly says to me that while we are agronomists and think we are mainly working with soils and plants, its the people who make change so we also have to be psychologists and know what drives change.


Within agriculture you are so much more then what your title defines you .As an agronomist on a daily basis I assist growers make decisions about how to nurture their crops and produce the best yields possible while keeping production costs low, keeping the levels of chemicals used to a minimum and being friendly to the environment.

On a daily basis I learn something new, I change the way I thought about a process and I help implement these new processes into the production systems that I work within. The interesting part of this is that one idea, is never implemented in the same way, that one idea can result in 6 or 7 different production processes dependent on how that grower runs their farm. While all farming may look the same from the outside, their a subtle differences on each farm that make it operate in the productive way that it does.


I am proud to say I work in an industry that

  • produces enough food to feed 60 million people.
  • produces 93% of the food we consume.
  • produces enough cotton to clothe 500 million people.

Did you know?

  • one 227kg of bale of cotton is enough to produce 215 pairs of jeans and 1,200 shirts.
  • Australian agriculture produces some of the highest quality food and fibre on the world market, and does so with a decreasing amount of land and water.


Agriculture is an essential part of the economy, but I also think agriculture is an important part of our society’s way of life. We are blessed to have the agriculture industry with all it offers and it is time for a revival of sorts. It is time for everyone who has the potential to get involved with agriculture in some way to peel back the layers of what agriculture is and take a serious look. It is not just a career choice; it is a lifestyle choice as it offers a wonderful way of life.

The passion of the people in this industry is infectious and the resilience of the people in this industry its own life lesson. I’ve only been in the industry for a couple years now and the way I look at life has changed dramatically.

So, when you think about the word agriculture, have a real think about it and tell me what comes into your mind?

We are all born superstars

Art4Agriculuture Young Farming Champion Jess Monteith is a walking talking testament to phrase “life is what you make it”.

She was recently awarded the prestigious Shoalhaven Young Citizen of the Year Australia Day honour for her inspiring AGvocay for Agriculture and her work with the Hands Across NSW Charity

Jess Monteith Shoalhaven Young Citizen of the Year 2013

In today’s guest blog post Jess shares her work with the Hands Across NSW Charity

For 7 years I have been an ambassador for Hands Across NSW. Hands Across NSW began as a charity organisation during the severe droughts to assist farming families and their communities.

Our vision and missions statements are to

“assist the rural communities in NSW affected by the drought and any other issues by providing help with dignity and to be a dynamic organization dedicated to assist those in need as well as providing a hand of friendship in times of distress, thereby ensuring our prominence as one of the leading, friendliest, and effective charitable organizations in this field originated in the Shoalhaven”.

Over the years we received donations of financial help to support our farmers to be resilient through grants of up to $5000 per individual. We also took donations of fodder and other feed products to provide for livestock in areas severely affected.

In 2009 we received a massive donation from the Bonds factory which supplied 30 different families with new underwear. Something we may take for granted, yet something so important as some of the women in remote communities could not afford new underwear  and were too embarrassed to even visit a Dr because of the state of their underwear.

Between 2007 and 2012 we used donations from local communities to provide children with Christmas presents. It was so rewarding to see the looks on their faces

Hands Across continues to provide financial support to those in need through monitoring progress. This is essential as it indicates the degree of help that needs be provided in the future as well as monitoring the changes in the type of help required. This means our charity is under constant review so it can deliver what farmers need on the ground as soon as thye need it

I am very excited by the next phase that ongoing donations and support has allowed us to develop a program that provides scholarships for students in my local community who face financial hardship in transferring from primary school through to high school. The scholarship program is run in conjunction with the Berry-Gerringong Rotary club who have also raised funds

Check out Jess’ latest video which shares her amazing journey to date




Meeting of the bright young minds in agriculture

Art4Agriculture Dairy Young Farming Champions Jess Monteith and Tom Pearce are heading off to the seat of power and the Bush Capital to attend the Future Farmers Network  ‘Youth Agricultural Central’ 2013 Roundtable this week and wow are they excited

Jess and Tom

I feel a blog post coming on Jess and Tom

Youth Agricultural Central (YAC) will see bright young minds representing Youth in Ag across Australia come together to create a collaborative and cohesive cross industry strategic plan for the next generation in agriculture to ensure young people are engaged and contributing to the industry issues now and prepared to meet the needs as we progress forward.

Well done FFN the Art4Ag team salute you

You can read about Jess and Tom who were recently featured in Australian Dairy Farmer Magazine here

Jess Front Cover

Tom Pearce Young Farming Champion

Jess Monteith inside story ADFM

Meet Naomi Hobson A small town girl having a big adventure!

Today we are thrilled to introduce you to guest blogger Naomi Hobson.


Naomi grew up in Gunnedah NSW where her family runs a 6500 acre mixed beef and cropping enterprise. Naomi is very passionate about the role of women in agriculture and encouraging and supporting young people to enter agricultural industries. She was recently selected to travel to the National Rural Women’s Coalition Conference as a QLD youth representative. Naomi firmly believes that a career in agriculture is the best place to be

“There is one thing I will guarantee about agriculture, the opportunities are endless! It doesn’t matter what your background may be all you need is enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and the ability to say yes to the opportunities that are presented to you and I guarantee a great adventure will be waiting!”

We asked Naomi to tell us why she believes it is important for the agriculture sector to build relationships with the community. We are confident you will be as impressed by what she had to say as we are

I like the saying that ‘people will only conserve what they love, love what they understand, understand what they know and know what they are taught’.

If we are going to conserve agriculture and the rural way of life then we must bridge the divide between producer and consumer, be the ears that listens to their concerns and the voice that answers their questions and show young people the vast array of career and lifestyle opportunities which agriculture can offer them.

Drawing inspiration from Dorothea Mackellar this is Naomi’s story ……… Enjoy

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.

I tend to believe that Dorothea Mackellar drew inspiration for ‘My Country’ from years exploring her family’s property in the Gunnedah district as a child. What makes me think this? Because my own passion and love of the land has been inspired by a childhood of adventure and history in Gunnedah, NSW.

Hailing from the koala capital of the world I have marvelled at many sunsets, watching the sun peek above the trees on the horizon casting an assortment of colours across the landscape. clip_image004

‘A resident koala keeping an eye on the farm’

There are rich red and black soils lying in wait for the next crop, sweeping plains which transform to green pastures with the onset of summer storms.



As you look out from the hill tops you can see the backsides of grazing cattle, dutiful mothers nursing their calves and in the distance golden fields of wheat dancing in the sunlight. Growing up in such a landscape you cannot help but fall in love with the land!

Cows Calves

Life as a child in Gunnedah was filled with weekend sports, picnics by the gully with friends and cousins, Tuesday morning cattle sales, standing up on the rails of the cattle yards ‘helping’ pick the best cattle in the mob and you could be sure that a poddy calf was never too far away. As the third generation to work our family land I have watched my father and grandfather in awe as they work cattle, plough, sow and harvest crops, fix machinery and tinker in the shed. Growing up I had always wanted to work with animals and my parents have always encouraged us to do what makes us happy. With that in the back of my mind at the age of 17 I left home and headed to uni with my big dreams and big plans in tow. Little did I know that despite all those big plans, the reality would be so much better!!


‘Helping Dad’

My greatest adventure so far came in 2010 when I first became involved with Intercollegiate Meat Judging (ICMJ). Little did I know this would open a world of opportunity and introduce me to people who would have resounding impacts on my life. Through the program I have had a rare insight into the beef, lamb and pork industries and was fortunate enough to be selected on the Australian National Meat Judging Team. Our team travelled to the USA for a month long industry tour in 2012. While in the US we competed in 2 meat judging competitions, toured and trained in plants owned by the three biggest meat processors in the states Tyson, JBS and Cargill, visited ranches, universities and research facilities across 10 states travelling a total of 5600 miles – sleep certainly became a luxury!


‘Our route across the USA’

From the first day of training with our university team meat judging has developed my understanding of aspects of meat production from paddock-to-plate, and has provided the opportunity to learn about agriculture and how Australia fits in a global market. It has also provided me with a deep appreciation for the millions of people who work tirelessly to supply growing global populations with a safe, high quality form of protein. Through ICMJ I was afforded one of the greatest experiences of my life which has continued to have positive impacts on my career and personal life to date…and all because I saw a flyer on a pin-board!!


‘2012 Australian Meat Judging Team at Texas Tech University’


‘Training at the University of Wyoming’


‘Enjoying some sunshine – Cattle are housed in barns through winter in Illinois’


‘Our Van – It was quite a cold trip!’


‘Visiting the National Cattleman’s Beef Association’

After such a great adventure it was time to head off on the next one and I am currently living out a life-long dream to head ‘up North’. I am working as a Grazing Lands Officer in Far North Queensland with a region of 196,000km2. My partner and I are starting our own beef herd and after meeting so many inspirational women at the National Rural Women’s Conference in Canberra recently I cannot wait to see what other adventures are waiting!


As you read through the posts on this blog and speak to people in agriculture you will see that everyone has their own adventure and story to share. There is one thing I will guarantee about agriculture, the opportunities are endless! It doesn’t matter what your background may be all you need is enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and the ability to say yes to the opportunities that are presented to you and I guarantee a great adventure will be waiting!

After all, as Dorothea wrote…

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold.

No fence sitting here


Last year Art4Agriculuture introduced you to Jordan Kerr a young man who is making things happen. Jordan’s strong social conscience, sense of community and commitment to be the change that needs to happen had already seen him represent Australia at the Global Young Leaders Conference 2011, where he had a speaking gig at the United Nations 2011 in New York.

Having now finished his HSC he is having a gap year before he embarks on a degree in Social Inquiry and International Studies at UTS. With this degree under his belt he will then be looking at a career in international politics and diplomacy.  I am confident people like Nick Xenophon would be grateful indeed to have someone of the ilk of Jordan watching their back 

Jordan has accomplished a great deal in the last 12 months including represent Australia at the Presidential Inaugural Conference in Washington DC in January 2013.


He has also set up Youth Link Australia (YLA) in 2012 . The aim of YLA  is to connect youth across Australia with youth services 

I personally see Jordan as a socially conscious leader. I see someone who is aware of the issues facing both local and global communities and is actively trying to correct the problem and providing opportunities to nurture others to do the same. 

Today Jordan gives us an update on the last 12 months. I am just not quite sure what to say when I read his story and see what he has achieved in such a short time. I just wonder what I have been doing with my life. If only the world was full of people the calibre of Jordan Kerr 

The story so far can be found here and the next chapter follows ……

During the six years I spent at Hurlstone Agricultural High School in Glenfield NSW I was lucky enough to meet a number of fellow students who share my values and priorities and then find a supportive teacher body who encouraged us in our endeavours to find and trial new and different ways to connect with and contribute to the wider community.

Having personally benefited from the many opportunities for Australian youth locally, nationally and internationally, I was keen for other young people to share the benefits as well. So last year six of my fellow Hurlstonians got together and set up Youth Link Australia with the purpose of connecting young people with services and opportunities within their community.  By providing a single website Australian youth now have access to a vast variety of resources in one place.

As an organisation we aim to:

  • Enable youth to easily access national services online in one website.
  • Encourage youth to get actively involved within their local community.
  • Provide information in relation to youth volunteering and extra-curricular activities.
  • Provide information in relation to leadership opportunities locally, nationally and internationally.

We are also very partnership focused and work with other organisations to help promote their work to Australian youth, so if you like what you see when you visit our website we would love to hear from you.

Now to the highlight of my 2013 year so far and that of course is being selected to represent Australia at the Presidential Inaugural Conference which was held in Washington DC during January 2013.


Sponsored by the NSW Government, Xstrata Coal, Dick Smith (the individual not the company) and the John Edmondson VC Memorial Club I participated in the 5 day conference that celebrates the inauguration of the President of the United States. IMG_1064

The conference also explored how President’s run winning campaigns and the roles of Presidential staff. Through practical simulations and hands on seminars we actually got to take on the role of presidential staff and run mock campaigns. The conference also explored the history and the controversy surrounding former US President Richard Nixon. A special screening of the movie All the Presidents Men explored the breaking of the Watergate scandal and can you believe it I later had the opportunity to meet with Bob Woodward one of the United States most acclaimed reporters responsible for revealing the scandal to the public.

Jordan Kerr with Bob Wooward

Guest speakers at the conference included Dr. Condoleezza Rice, General Wesley Clark and Mr Claes Nobel.  Dr. Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to the President spoke about her insider’s perspective of the US Presidency and also about growing up in a segregated community. General Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, four-star general and Presidential Candidate spoke about his leadership experiences on and off the battlefield. Mr Claes Nobel the grandnephew of Alfred Nobel founder of the Nobel Prize addressed the conference about the importance of youth leadership.

The conference also included an evening performance by The Capitol Steps, a former group of congressional staffers turned songwriters. Along with this a black tie Gala Inaugural Celebration took place at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar- Hazy Center, home to thousands of aviation and space artefacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery.


Inauguration day was of course the biggest highlight of the conference. Standing amongst the among the hundreds of thousands of people watching the President take the Oath of Office was a truly unforgettable experience. The national pride and American patriotism was like nothing I had ever seen before.

Jordan was there … he saw history and he was part of it …… I have a feeling he will be making history himself in the not too distant future

Meet Bessie Blore loving the man, the land and her career in wool

Todays guest blog by journalist turned farmer Bessie Blore comes to us with these words of wisdom



… there is room for fresh blood in our farming future, and there are new, inspiring, exciting stories to be started from today…

Bessie story is a fascinating and very entertaining tale.indeed. I don’t know about you but when I read this I thought to myself this must be one handsome man and one special girl.

Now we’re the only two human inhabitants of “Burragan,” 70,000 acres of grazing land, more than 100 kilometres from the closest town of Wilcannia. And over the past 24 months I have developed a passion for life on the land, and wool growing in particular, that borders on crazed and psychotic at times, I’m sure most of my city friends think I’m far too enthusiastic about dirt, sheep, and isolation.

Seriously 100 km from the closest town!!!!. You would want to pay close attention to detail writing the grocery list.

Bessie is part of the dedicated Ask an Aussie Farmer team and just fell in love with a man she met on a bus who you guessed it just happened to be a farmer.


Hi! I’m Bess,……………….

Two years ago I knew nothing about farming. I don’t come from a farming background; in fact I’m actually a journalist. But five years ago I fell in love with a handsome traveller, who turned out to be a farmer’s son. And two years ago he convinced me to move from the tropics of North Queensland to the deserts of far-western New South Wales to join his family running Merino sheep and Angus cattle on their little slice of outback paradise.
In the last two years I’ve gone from wearing heels and skirts to work writing the television news, to wearing boots and jeans to work, helping my partner and his family run up to 20,000 head of Merinos across three properties – and I’m loving it!

My partner’s family has run Merinos on the same property for many generations. He grew up like a typical station kid – riding motorbikes from the day dot, completing primary school through School of the Air, and then moving hundreds of kilometres away from home to attend boarding school. I, on the other hand, have always lived in town, attended a high school with 3,000 students, and started my university education living in the city suburbs of Brisbane – catching trains and buses alongside its 2 million other inhabitants on a daily basis.

Now we’re the only two human inhabitants of “Burragan,” 70,000 acres of grazing land, more than 100 kilometres from the closest town of Wilcannia. And over the past 24 months I have developed a passion for life on the land, and wool growing in particular, that borders on crazed and psychotic at times, I’m sure most of my city friends think I’m far too enthusiastic about dirt, sheep, and isolation.


With livestock across the three properties, about 90 kilometres apart from each other, “busy” is an extremely understated description of our day to day life. To break things up among the properties, we shear and crutch twice a year – all up it can go for up to 12 weeks! In between those times we are lamb marking (my favourite job), fencing, fixing broken troughs, tanks and dams, improving the properties’ timeworn infrastructure, joining rams, preg scanning, undertaking months of natural resource management such as spraying weeds and chipping burrs, as well as the day to day checking of water points and stock. On top of the wool side of things, we run Dorper rams to cross over the ewes and sell the first cross meat lambs (…listen to this farming jargon flow like I know what I’m talking about!). We also have a couple of hundred head of Angus beef cattle. And, just to keep things totally hectic, when we do get a chance, we also muster and sell feral rangeland goats.


Most days I don’t have a clue what I’m doing out here! But I quickly learnt that there’s no better way to pick things up than to just jump in and have a go. This is also the best way to earn respect from those who’ve been in the industry since birth.

I’ve managed to ask every conceivable stupid question under the sun… from, “Do sheep eat meat?” to “WHAT is WRONG with that THING!? THAT! Over THERE! The one with the Mohawk!” (The answer to that one was that nothing was wrong with it, it was just a Dorper Ram rather than a Merino Ram). And, “Why are there so many goats on the driveway?” (Wrong again! They were the neighbour’s Damaras… *hangs head in shame*)


And I’ve done almost every stupid thing possible in the playbook… from jumping in the work ute and driving away with a flat tyre (a big no-no when the tyres are worth $400 each!), to riding the quad bike 20 kilometres in the wrong direction to muster the sheep in the wrong paddock on the wrong side of the property.

And the number one lesson I’ve learnt from all this is that there’s really no such thing as a stupid question or action. That’s the only way you can learn about something you know nothing about. Ask, ask, ask. And give a big cheeky grin when you make a mistake, say sorry, and move on!

I’m by no means an expert on wool growing, but I have been blessed with the tenacity to ask questions without worrying about whether people are going roll their eyes at me. I’ve learnt about microns and vegetable matter percentages, shearing and baling and loading, mustering and drafting and marking, stocking rates and rainfall rates and spray rates and every kind of rate. Most importantly of all, I’ve not just learnt about how things are done, but also why they’re done.


During my first 12 months at Burragan I was still working full time from home as an online rural journalist. I was interviewing expert wool brokers about the highest wool prices in 30 years, and contractors about the shortage of trained shearers, and growers about changes to drought and flood disaster funding and financial planning services… and all the while I was looking out my office window and living these exact same stories in my everyday life. Once 5pm hit I’d be out in the paddock, enjoying the world I’d just spent all day reporting about.

Throughout this time, I became heavily involved in social media and kind of “fell in” with a crowd of farmers who were extremely active in the online world of promoting agriculture. I become friends with the team behind the Ask An Aussie Farmer (AAAF) page before it was launched, and later on I joined them as an admin. AAAF started as a Facebook group and twitter service where Australian consumers could have their food and fibre questions answered by real Aussie farmers, who know what they’re talking about because they’re living and working in the industry every day. With almost 4,000 followers the page plays a powerful role in connecting communities and building relationships between agriculture and consumers.

AAAF has also morphed into an online community for farmers to make contact with other farmers, sharing ideas and practices, and learning more about not only their own farming sectors, but all farming sectors within Australia. The thing that impresses and inspires me the most about AAAF is that it encourages people to take control of their own education and knowledge, with just one simple step: Ask A Question. Instead of just accepting what you’ve heard, read, or seen somewhere else, why not go direct to the source and ask? As a journalist that’s something that resonates with me greatly.

Over the last 12 months, I’ve moved into full time farm work and part time journalism – loving the opportunity to spend more time outdoors getting my hands dirty. There’s an incredible satisfaction to be found from a hard day in the sheep yards where I’m achieving things that two years ago I had no clue I could do. But I still hold a great passion for telling the stories of rural people, and I continue to do this through freelance work for various magazines and newspapers.

There are countless amazing stories of farming families who have been on the land for many hundreds of years. I love those stories and those types of families…I’m neighbours and friends with these types of families, I’m about to marry into one of these families! But although those stories are impressive and inspiring, they can also be just a teeeeny bit intimidating for anyone on the other side of the fence.

I am proof that you don’t have to be born on the land to love it, and you don’t have to be born into a farming family to try your best to make a positive difference to the industry. You don’t need have grown up riding horses or motorbikes, or know how to drive a tractor, or know the difference between lamb, hogget and mutton; all these things you can learn.


(That’s me! Attempting to shear a sheep! I wasn’t that crash hot, so I like to leave it to the professionals 😉


I love the stories of our pioneers who walked out into the deserts of our country to start modern agriculture from scratch in Australia. These men, women and children had to build every fence post, yard railing, horse stable, dam, and their own homes from nothing. These were true explorers and adventurers. These are the families that have built our farming history.

But there is room for fresh blood in our farming future, and there are new, inspiring, exciting stories to be started from today…

Of all my lessons over the last two years, one of the things I have come to appreciate the most is that, despite the preconception that farmers are very ‘black and white’ people – there’s actually very little black and white in the agriculture sector. Australia covers such vast physical distances that farming techniques are different the country over, to suit climate, geographical location, and the availability of natural resources. When it comes to agricultural issues, I think the most important thing we can learn is that the exact same practices that work for a woolgrower in New South Wales’ southern highlands aren’t necessarily going to work for a woolgrower in Western Australia’s arid drylands. We need to educate consumers about the diversity of agriculuture in Australia and reasons behind why we do what we do.

Communities and the agri-sector have a symbiotic relationship, one cannot thrive without the other, and I believe there could be a lot more understanding and appreciation for both. Building bonds between the two will ensure the continued survival and success of our agricultural industries. This is most easily achieved through sharing our everyday, human stories of life on the land. I personally am seeing this life with the same eyes as those we are trying to educate and believe I can help tell our ag stories in a way that’s relative to those who have also never experienced farm life before.

The first, and perhaps simplest, step is teaching people in urban communities to ask questions.

Follow Bessie on twitter @BloreBess

You can read more of Bessie’s journey in this feature on Leading Agriculture 

Talking Beef morning noon and night

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