Resilience of ag sector underpinned by strength of its communities
The best thing about being part of the rural sector is the sense of community you feel when you are a part of it. I believe the rural community is a delicate ecosystem comprised of many different parts - starting with farmers on the land, extending to rural professionals who offer advice and guidance, right through to rural dealerships that provide equipment and services to keep farms moving and working.
These rural ecosystems are no different to any other in nature in that they require all of the parts to be moving synergistically to function at an optimum level. When one part of the system fails, the whole community feels the effects, or ideally when it’s all working together the entire community thrives.
My journey through the Young Farmers competition has been one that has allowed me to explore the depths of the rural ecosystem. I have had people from every corner offering advice and expertise or support in the form of encouragement or resources. They say it takes a village to raise a child, well it truly takes a rural village to teach a Young Farmer the tricks of the trade!
In the lead up to the contest I spent a day in South Waikato learning how to shear sheep with a team of skilled Young Farmers. As we ate lunch, the father of one of the shearers told me a story about how his friend had won the contest many moons ago and had to shear a goat in the grand final. Apparently he made such a mess of shearing the goat, when he returned home some of his friends had planted a sign outside his farm saying “free goat shearing” just to remind him of how he nearly lost it all. This story was a little alarming to me as I had very little experience in shearing sheep let alone shearing a goat!
A local butcher also offered to teach me the tricks of his trade. It was amazing watching him work, in fact he was so skilled and fast it was difficult for a complete novice like me to follow the careful blows with the knife that he was executing. My husband’s grandad was a great butcher himself. Unfortunately meat was of such high value back in the day, my father-in-law, Johnny, tells me he wasn’t allowed a turn with the knife himself. Johnny must have learned more from a lifetime of watching though than I did in my one session with the local butcher because he spent an afternoon teaching me how to butcher our own lamb, and didn’t make a single snarky remark when I made the amateur mistake of accidently perforating the intestines, contaminating half the meat!
In a bid to save time, but learn more skills, I also sent my husband on a welding course so that he could return and teach me what he learned in a condensed form. Three arguments and a near divorce later I opted to spend the afternoon with Johnny’s cousin rather than endure another lesson with husband Chris. Johnny’s cousin was a very patient and expert welder himself and managed to teach me the basics just in time for the contest and save my marriage while he was at it.
It is these small moments in the lead-up to the contest with various people in the community that I will remember for years to come. And it’s these very people that comprise the base of the rural ecosystem we all depend on.
The event itself involves drawing from even more layers of the ecosystem in order to be successful. New Holland Agriculture has supported the Young Farmer of the Year for some time now and, like each of the sponsors, commits considerable time and resources to ensuring the competition continues to thrive. As a farming business we always look to support companies that invest back into our rural communities, using New Holland products on our farm in turn supports a company that believes in what we do – investing in the next generation.
It's for all these reasons that I’m proud to be a farmer and honoured to be in a position where I can highlight the amazing people and companies at the heart of our industry, who work together to make our industry great, and protect and secure its future.