When Charlie Reardon returned from the adventure of overseas travel he was in little doubt about his future.
Being “cooped up” in a city office wasn’t for him and there was something else in his blood.
The 20-year-old is among the sixth generation on the family’s Collector property, Rose Glen, running merino sheep.
“The opportunity to be working outside with the land and animals while producing food and clothing is something I find highly rewarding,” he told a gathering on Wednesday night.
Mr Reardon was one of four speakers at Regional Development Australia Southern Inland’s Ag Day Barbecue at Goulburn’s Grace Millsom Centre.
Some 100 people attended the evening aimed at supporting and highlighting farmers’ resilience throughout trying conditions. Stallholders also showed off produce, including Dewsburys Free Range Pork, which provided sausages for the barbecue.
The drought had not deterred Mr Reardon from a life on the land and, as he quipped, “keeping an eye on the old man so he doesn’t get out of line.”
“The calmness and peace of country living is something that can’t be replicated in cities,” he said.
“...The chance to add my own work to the previous five generations’ accomplishments is something I will be proud of.
“...Our farm is more than just a business, it’s a central point where many call it home, whether they currently live there or not and I suspect that’s the same for many family properties.”
Mr Reardon said he was optimistic about Australian agriculture. Data extraction and genetic improvements would play an increasing role. As consumers focused more on quality, sustainability and ethical standards, farmers would have to rise to the challenge.
“With wealth increasing across the globe and willingness to pay for the best products, it will create a strong market for quality produce,” he said.
Elders wool technical coordinator from the Melbourne selling centre Samantha Wan spoke about her career in the industry. Inspired by a school teacher, she studied an Agricultural Science degree at Sydney University.
For the past six and a half years she has worked with Elders, a role which takes her from the very busy Melbourne selling centre where up to 270 lots are sold every hour, to sheds in far flung places.
“I love being part of the wool selling pipeline and hearing all the stories,” she said.
Armed with an IT background, Ms Wan saw her role as “bringing wool broking into the 21st century.”
Former South-East Local Land Services vet Bill Johnson, delivered an entertaining speech about the event’s theme, resilience.
Now retired from his 20-year stint, Mr Johnson said the word resilient was the new catch cry of agriculture.
“The second most overused word is biosecurity,” he said.
Mr Johnson said farmers worked in an “outdoor casino” but knew things went around in a cycle.
He exploded a few myths; number one was “they all have crap days.”
“I’ve been there when they hear from the farm agent that the feed they’re buying is now $1200/tonne – take it or leave it,” Mr Johnson said.
But farmers were resilient, usually keeping as many balls in the air as possible, planting fodder crops in anticipation of a summer storm, going to field days and “always having a project” on the boil.
“One of the most inspiring parts is watching the farming baton pass between generations,” Mr Johnson said.
“It really is a good time to be in agriculture, and remember, if you’re having a crap day, put on your best bull impersonation.”
Tara Craig, property manager for the Divall family company, Narambulla Partnership, spoke about strategies employed to survive drought. The five family properties, scattered across Goulburn and district, West Wyalong and Stockinbingal, ran breeding cows and sowed crops.
Un-harvestable canola at the latter holdings was baled and provided Narambulla, just north of Goulburn, 1000 bales of canola silage for feed.
“Preparing for the drier times or times of shortage has always been a major aspect of our year to year overall farm management,” Ms Craig said.
Also attending the evening were stallholders such as Bent Shed Produce of Tarago, specialising in Australian native produce and bush-ranged poultry products, Kingsdale and Yarralaw Springs Wineries, Goulburn AP&H Society, the Small Farms Network, South East Local Land Services, Elders, Tablelands Farming Systems, RDASI and more. Goulburn Rotary was on barbecue duties.
Popular local country music singer Roo Arcus provided entertainment.
RDASI chairman Hugh Cooke said the day was about adding strength to farmers’ thinking, supporting them during a tough time and highlighting the value of their work in a sector of great importance to the region.
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