AN even bigger Elders sponsored livestock section is on the cards for this year's McIntosh & Son Mingenew Midwest Expo.
Once again there will be the competition staples for teams of ewe hoggets and yearling heifers vying for regional honours, while students from agricultural colleges and other under-25s will pit their skills in a Young Farmers Competition, which for the first time, will incorporate State qualifier junior judging events.
Head steward of the section Billi Marshall said the Young Farmers competition was trialled last year and the success of the event encouraged organisers to ramp up the competition to an even higher level this year.
"We are now recognised by the Agricultural Shows of Australia (ASA) to be an official qualifying fixture for State junior judging competitions at the annual IGA Perth Royal Show," Ms Marshall said.
"Winners of the individual judging competitions which form part of the Young Farmers Competition will be eligible to compete in these sections at this year's IGA Perth Royal Show."
Those sections are Merino sheep, Merino fleece and beef cattle judging, but the Young Farmers Competition at Mingenew also incorporates crop production and machinery parts recognition categories as well as the Waratah teams fencing challenge.
Ms Marshall said the fencing challenge required teams of four competitors and points would be shared by team members to add to their individual competition tallies in determining an overall Young Farmers Competition champion and reserve champion competitor.
"Last year the event was trialled with students from WA College of Agriculture, Morawa, but this year we are expecting students from Edmund Rice College, Bindoon and WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin, to also compete," she said.
"Through this competition we are trying to encourage young people into careers in agriculture as well as to educate the general public about the skills that exist in agriculture and how they are used in the everyday running of a farm.
"It is an unrecognised and unacknowledged industry in many ways."
Ms Marshall is one who knows well the value of an agricultural college education and the opportunities it can provide.
As a former student at Edmund Rice College she began competing in junior judging competitions nine years ago and has regularly been a finalist in the IGA Perth Royal Show State junior beef cattle judging competition.
Last year she won the State title and as a result will contest the national final, which this year is being held at the IGA Perth Royal Show in October.
Ms Marshall also won the State title at Perth in 2013 and consequently the following year competed in the national final at the Brisbane Royal Exhibition Show.
Given her success, she is a strong advocate for the benefits and camaraderie that come with competing in junior judging competitions and is hoping to forge a professional career as a cattle judge.
"I started competing at regional shows and events like Mingenew Expo and that's a great base to work your way up the ladder from," she said.
"I love judging cattle, but you also get to meet lots of people and to travel."
Elders Mingenew branch manager Jarrad Kupsch, whose company has been the major sponsor of the Expo livestock section for the past three years, said it was an ideal way to show the quality of the livestock being produced locally and exciting to see the Young Farmers competition taking the next step to ASA accreditation.
"Billi shows great passion and enthusiasm for the agricultural industry and promoting youth and she has done a great job organising the Challenge," Mr Kupsch said.
"Elders is strong on supporting local events and being part of the local community and given it is the Midwest Expo it is really for the whole region and takes in our branches at Coorow, Carnamah, Mingenew, Northampton and Geraldton.
"Our livestock agent Ross Tyndale-Powell and wool specialist Breanna Hayes will both be on hand in the Elders Livestock Arena and we thank our suppliers in Bayer, Zoetis, Elanco and Waratah who are providing some of the prizes."
Entry forms can be found online at mmwe.com.au or call the Expo office on 9928 1138 or Elders office on 9928 2500.