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Beyond the Bale : September 2019
ON FARM 35 Two young shearers are the latest crop of enthusiastic Young Farming Champions, sponsored by AWI, who will actively promote the wool industry to the public and to students who might have never before considered a career in agriculture. YOUNG SHEARERS TO CHAMPION THE WOOL INDUSTRY The Young Farming Champion program continues to create an Australia-wide network of enthusiastic youth ambassadors to promote Australian agriculture as a dynamic, innovative, rewarding and vibrant industry. AWI has been involved in the program, run by Picture You in Agriculture, since 2012 and has now sponsored 23 Young Farming Champions during this time. They actively engage with the public and school students, spreading their passion for wool, bridging the rural-urban divide, and inspiring the next generation of youngsters to consider a career in the wool industry. The two new wool industry Young Farming Champions are 23-year-old shearer Tom Squires from Tasmania and 27-year-old Matt Cumming who owns and operates a shearing contracting business in Inverell in northern NSW. TOM SQUIRES Tom grew up around sheep in Tasmania. When he was 16, Tom’s father let him buy his very own mob of sheep: ten Merino ewes and one Merino ram. He remembers the initial stress of ownership but the unease quickly disappeared when he shore them for the first time. “The smell of lanolin in the air and the fleeces floating onto the table. It was that moment I realised there’s more to farming than money. There’s that sense of achievement in seeing a fleece being packed into a bale, knowing someone will benefit from what you produced,” Tom said. After year 12, he worked around the shearing sheds, which was a brilliant opportunity to travel to other farming operations and gain skills in the wool industry. To grow his knowledge in agriculture, he travelled to New Zealand to complete a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce, but he is now back in his home state living his dream job as a shearer and a farmer. Tom wants consumers to understand the entire wool supply chain and to realise the true pride farmers have for their produce. “It’s a long road to this destination but I want to be a part of the change: one voice, one education, one person at a time.” MATT CUMMING Matt is a 5th generation shearer and says he was always destined to work in the wool industry. “One of my favourite earliest memories is of going to work with my grandfather, being keen to take part in the action, sliding down the sheep chute at any given chance,” Matt said. He went shearing full time when he was 20 and three years later started CMAT Contracting, a full contract shearing, wool press and labour hire service which operates throughout northern NSW and south western Queensland. Matt employees a core team of six under the age of thirty and is very proud of his team for their workmanship and the pride they take in their work. He is very passionate about the wool industry including competition shearing and wool handling events – he not only sponsors and competes in them himself, but he also encourages his team to do so as well. “I take pride in my small contribution within the Australian wool industry; Australian wool has the reputation of being a high- quality product, and as such it demands a high-quality shearing and wool clip preparation,” Matt said. “I want to continue to be an advocate for professional standards within the sheep and wool industry. I encourage all to try our industry, as it can be very rewarding.” Tom and Matt will participate in the Young Farming Champions leadership development program, a two-year package of support including media training, networking and mentorship opportunities to help them share their stories with the nation. In the first twelve months they will attend two immersion workshops and in their second year will visit schools as part of The Archibull Prize to raise awareness of the wool industry and the diversity of agricultural careers. MORE INFORMATION www.wool.com/yfc Tom Squires and Matt Cumming are the first shearers to become AWI-supported Young Farming Champions, which adds a new dimension to the youth ambassador program. PHOTO: Forbes Corby
In the Shops - September 2019