Dairy farmer Jason Smith has won this year’s Kondinin Group and ABC Rural National Young Farmer of The Year award.
Mr Smith said he was proud of the win, but did not feel like the best young farmer in Australia.
‘‘I have made many mistakes over the years when it comes to dairy farming, but one thing that hasn’t changed is my love for my cows and the industry,’’ the former Gunbower resident said.
‘‘I bought my first Jersey cow when I was 14 and my first Illawarra at 16.
‘‘I am passionate about the opportunities the industry provides and I think it is important to encourage and help young people along the way.’’
Mr Smith is currently part of the Young Dairy Network, treasurer of the UDV and is involved in the Jersey and Illawarra cattle societies.
He has also gained fame for speaking out as a gay farmer.
Formerly from Gunbower, Mr Smith started out in the industry in 2009, milking in an old eight-a-side mud brick dairy with just 30 cows. Today his stock numbers sit at 517.
It has been a tumultuous ride as he has gone from leasing properties, to farm ownership, to entering into an equity partnership in Simpson in western Victoria where he now lives.
‘‘The driving force for me has always been to keep my cattle,’’ Mr Smith said.
‘‘I love my genetics and this season I am putting my seventh generation Illawarra heifer through the dairy and I am so proud of that fact.
‘‘Dairying is a tough industry at times, but I truly believe it is rewarding to be involved in.’’