WA farmer takes national title

30 Jul, 2003 10:00 PM
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DUMBLEYUNG farmer Shayne Smith has beaten strong interstate competition to win the National Young Farmer of the Year title.

WA has entered the competition twice for two wins, with Andrew Schilling of Beverley victorious in 2001.

Mr Smith, 23, won the WA young farmer title. The runner-up Charles Caldwell, 25, Boyup Brook, also went on to the national competition.

Two contestants from each state competed at Marcus Oldham College, Geelong, with a prize pool of $15,000 up for grabs.

Mr Smith performed well in public speaking and a written exam, won three test modules in agronomy, farm mechanics and information technology and competed strongly in the remaining five.

"I was very pleased to win," he said. "There were 12 competitors and they were all pretty switched on.

"It was good just chatting with the others and seeing how they did things."

Mr Smith graduated from Muresk Agricultural College last year and is focused on improving the performance of his family's 3000ha wool and grain property.

"It's just about getting a balance right between cropping and sheep and getting the business running well with gross margins and other things," he said.

He said the competition helped highlight his strengths and the areas where he needed to gain knowledge.

He took home the prizemoney, Mitre 10 vouchers and soil test kits.

He will attend the Australian Rural Youth young leaders course in Canberra and a number of other conferences.

ARY organised the competition. It has signed a sponsorship deal with Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Australia for $75,000 over three years to develop and enhance the concept.

Federal Agriculture Minister Warren Truss presented the award to Mr Smith.

"It's often a hard battle for young people to gain recognition of their skills and talents," Mr Truss said.

"ARY's Young Farmer of the Year competition greatly increases the profile of young rural Australians and highlights the important contribution they make to our communities and industries."

A WA team of Emma Field, Jackie Hull and Andrew Schilling also took out a youth debating competition held in conjunction with the event.

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