WITH a long family history of farming in WA, it’s no surprise that a love for farming has been carried onto the next generation of the Yost family.
Morgan and Jess Yost are sixth-generation farmers who are eager to bring their ideas and knowledge to the family farm.
The farm, Culham, at Toodyay, is operated by Morgan and Jess’ parents Kevin and Robin, with their primary focus being livestock.
Culham runs 200 commercial cattle of mixed breeds and 100 Charolais and some Shorthorn stud cattle, as well as a 2000-head flock of White Dorpers.
After witnessing their parents’ dedication to the family stud for the past two decades, Morgan and Jess have recently started their own stud, Culham Charolais.
Beginning a stud is no easy feat for any farmer, but with Morgan and Jess’ determination and passion for producing quality cattle and their parents’ guidance, they are on the right path for success.
After finishing high school, both Morgan and Jess sought further education to complement their goal to one day return to the farm.
Morgan graduated with an animal science degree from Murdoch University in 2015 and Jess studied a diploma of agriculture technologies at the Muresk Institute, which she completed in 2016.
This will be Morgan’s third year and Jess’ second back on the farm full-time.
Since returning, Morgan said her passion for the industry had grown and she has found it interesting learning more about the business.
“I think I am more passionate now because we are involved with decisions and it’s our own work which we can see starting to pay off,” Morgan said.
“I have only been back for three years and in that time my passion has only intensified, because when I was at school and university, I always knew what happened on the farm but didn’t understand the details of it.
“We have never really had to think about the weather, it had always been mum and dad’s job to stress about the weather and now we do too.”
Jess said she has also enjoyed being able to have input into the decision-making and contribute to the business with new ideas.
“We quickly realised how much work there constantly is, when we were still at school we didn’t see a lot of it,” Jess said.
“It’s nice to implement things occasionally – being the younger generation and understanding technology, we can bring that into the farm.”
Having studied different sectors of the industry, the sisters have taken a liking to certain areas of the farm – Morgan is more involved with the stud and production and Jess has opted for the technological tasks and focusing more on the farm itself.
Morgan always had an interest in production, which was the main motive for her to study animal science and since coming back to the farm, her passion for genetics and breeding has blossomed.
“Calving is my favourite time of year – seeing the genetics continue onto the next generation is exciting,” Morgan said.
The pair have been growing their stud for the past two to three years, with the help of each receiving a cow from their parents and another each from their nana.
They have built up their own stud herd of 15 cows, which has already had some success at recent shows.
“We took two heifers to the show (IGA Perth Royal Show) last year and one of ours actually beat mum and dad’s in the class, so we were pretty happy with that,” Morgan said.
“There’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition.”
It’s not very often nowadays that you find young people so enthusiastic to carry on the family business, but the Yost sisters both exhibited a passion that seemed to been sown in childhood.
Morgan said the family history, coupled with enjoying the lifestyle and day-to-day stud work were the biggest influences for her choosing a career as a farmer.
“Mum and Dad have put their heart and soul into the stud for more than 20 years and looking at what they have achieved makes me want to continue that for them and make it bigger and better if we can,” Morgan said.
“It’s the same with the farm, which has been in mum’s family for six generations, so we want to keep it going, rather than sell it to someone who doesn’t understand that family connection.”
Misconceptions about farming have been heightened with the recent live export controversy and Jess said she hopes to contribute to helping people understand the industry more, thereby improving it.
“People’s misunderstanding of farming, especially with the live export issues going on, have caused them to not understand farming which motivates me to keep going and make the industry better,” Jess said.
“If I know that our animals are constantly happy and healthy, then it makes me feel like I am doing my part to improve the industry and make a difference, no matter how small.
“Also in the grand scheme of things, agriculture serves a really important purpose – to produce food.”
For the future, Morgan said she hopes to grow the stud and promote the Charolais breed.
“In the short-term, I want to work on generally improving the genetics so the cattle perform better in the feedlot and increase awareness of the Charolais name,” Morgan said.
“For the long-term, we would always want to buy more land so we can breed more cattle but that is quite an ambitious dream, but hopefully one day we can do that.”
Jess said recent technological updates to some of the farm’s infrastructure will be a good investment in the long run to improve efficiency and reducing costs.
“Starting to move from windmills and pumps to solar panels is expensive in the short-term, but it will save money in the long-term,” Jess said.
It’s no secret that being a farmer or seeking a career in agriculture is not an easy ride but the sisters said the reliability of the industry has always been quite consistent as people are always going to need food, so people shouldn’t steer away from agriculture.
Jess said persistence and passion are key qualities for young people trying to enter the industry.
“You just have to stick with it and not give up when it gets hard,” Jess said.
“I imagine it would be especially hard for people who don’t have a family farm to go to, but they just need to not give up and try every aspect and avenue because it’s such a broad industry which will always have jobs.
“It’s just about finding something that you enjoy.”