Young Farmer of the Year: Jason Smith

JASON Smith’s dedication and successful, innovative approach to farming has secured him the title of 2017 Kondinin Group and ABC Rural Young Farmer of the Year sponsored by Case IH.
Young Farmer of the Year: Jason Smith Young Farmer of the Year: Jason Smith Young Farmer of the Year: Jason Smith Young Farmer of the Year: Jason Smith Young Farmer of the Year: Jason Smith

Staff Reporter

Jason is a fifth-generation dairy farmer who, after the sale of the family farm, ventured out independently and today leases land in south west Victoria, running 300 stud Jersey and Illawarra cattle along with 200 young stock. 

His passion and commitment to the industry is evident through his drive to succeed, furthering his leadership skills through education and leadership courses, and supporting the local community. 

“Dairy farming is in my blood,” Jason said. “It was always what I saw myself doing.”

“Our family farm was sold when I was quite young. Venturing out on my own was a big risk and was going to be hard work, but I knew I needed to do it to achieve my goals. I had to make the decision, amidst severe drought, to leave the area I knew so well to farm further south, but it was the best move I could have made.”

“The Australian dairy industry has experienced some really tough times in the last few years, with the milk-price crisis and drought. Like so many others, I am dealing daily with those issues, but I am focused on working my way out of this challenging period.”

Jason is committed to his dairy business and on his leased property, is currently co-ordinating the clearing of 200 hectares of former blue gum plantations to reclaim the area for his dairy herd. 

"My intention is to grow the herd to 600 cows within four years,” Jason said. “I have plans for a new dairy and to build an underpass to access the farms on the other side of the road, along with some other major infrastructure changes to ensure the farms growth.”

“I also have a goal to move from a lease arrangement to an equity partnership with the owner of the property I am leasing.”

Jason has shown a commitment to leadership within the industry, completing a Certificate 3 and 4 in Agriculture and engaging in a range of courses including the Woolworths Rural Leaders Course, Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program and Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program.

Norm Stone, Jason’s former TAFE lecturer, believes it is Jason’s dedication and determination which has seen him achieve his goals.

“Jason is a true ambassador for the dairy industry,” Mr Stone said. “He has a real love for his stock and embodies the commitment required to run a good modern herd, including investing the time and effort into a strong breeding program.”

The 2017 Young Farmer of the Year Award is sponsored by global leader in agricultural equipment, Case IH.

Case IH Brand Leader, Bruce Healy, commended Jason on his achievements and his ability to build a successful farming business from scratch.

“It is young farmers like Jason who we want to see out there in the industry, using their passion for agriculture and their personal drive to run a thriving farm,” Mr Healy said.

“Case IH has always acknowledged innovation and forward thinking as being integral to success and Jason certainly embodies these and makes a very worthy winner of the 2017 Young Farmer of the Year Award.” 

Jason is keen to use his win to encourage other young farmers to invest in themselves as well as the farm.

“Like most farmers, my number one priority has always been the farm and my stock,” Jason said. “But I have seen great value in investing in improving my business and leadership skills.”

“There are some great programs and courses out there to help you to look outside the traditional square box and give you the confidence to turn those innovative ideas into reality.”