Jason and his wife Shannon are passionate beef cattle farmers with a mission. They have set up Farmers Beef Direct online to create awareness and empower consumers about the importance of sustainable farming practices.
How long have you lived on the Coffs Coast? What makes this area so special to you?
All my life. I’m a Bellingen lad, born and bred. Both my wife, Shannon, and I have our families living in Bellingen, and that is really important to us. I love living in the area, because it’s just so diverse. Both the coast and the hinterland have fantastic fishing and beautiful scenery. You will never move me away from my farm, though. The lifestyle is addictive. Farming is hard work, and I love that. It’s just so rewarding, and that is what keeps me going. Farming is my passion. It’s in my blood.
Jason, your grandparents used to farm cattle. Is that how you got into the industry?
I guess I had exposure to farming and the land from as long as I can remember. My grandparents had a dairy farm, and I used to love the freedom of riding my bike the 14 km out to their place as a young boy and helping them. They were well regarded within their community and were very skilled farmers. I always admired the way they respected their cattle and the land. They have taught me so much about farming, had good morals, and it’s something that will always stay with me. I have gained further knowledge of farming through a lot of trial and error and never being afraid to ask questions. When you enjoy something, you want to know everything about it. Your quest for knowledge is infinite. Involving myself with industry bodies and functions started at a young age. I started entering into carcass competitions when I was only a teenager, and this was an integral part of learning about growing better beef. You can’t be afraid to learn. You just have to jump in, boots and all. It’s an amazing gift – especially when young, to spend quality time with your elders and have them impart their knowledge and skills upon you. It teaches you an awful lot about respect.
What do you love about cattle farming, and what are the challenges you face?
What don’t I love! Every aspect of farming is rewarding. Farming gives me a sense of freedom and inspires me to educate others about caring for the land, so our future generations can enjoy it. I especially love the challenge of efficient pasture management. To get the best out of your cattle, they have to have the best nutrition, just like us. This side of it is so involved but similarly, very interesting. The seasons can also be challenging at times, as can the forces of nature. Living in a region which has higher then average rainfall sees us facing floods a few times per year. No matter what though, the cattle still have to be well protected and cared for – and getting out there in those conditions isn’t the most pleasant at times! We also have a separate interest in our cattle stud. We breed and show stud Charolais, which is a breed originating from France. This also takes up a lot of our time, but it is something which we thoroughly enjoy. Our children especially like to get involved, and they absolutely love calving season. All our stud stock have to be named, and the kids really enjoy coming up with all sorts of wonderful names for the calves.
You have several farms throughout the area, so compared to other farms, what’s different and/or special about yours?
In a word: passion. I just can’t explain how passionate about farming we are. We have the farm where we live in Bellingen and another two in Dorrigo. The difference in our farms as compared to others isn’t in the farms themselves; it’s in our hearts. It’s our drive … our sense of pride and personal achievement. Anyone who knows us and our farms will agree how fantastic our farms always look and how healthy our cattle always are. Like your children, if you treat them well, feed them well and love them, they will reward you. We’re always in the paddock among our cattle, striving to improve on last week’s efforts. It’s like a fun game that’s never-ending.
You’ve recently launched your new business – Farmers Beef Direct. What’s it all about?
Farmers Beef Direct was an idea we had in the pipeline for some time before we decided to make a go of it. We have found that people now, more so than ever, want to make informed choices about the food they purchase for their families. They want to know where the food has come from, who the people are behind the product and how it was produced. People want honesty and wholesomeness. Our name implies exactly what you get. Beef, direct from the farmer. We passionately produce beef that is of superior taste and exceptional value. With education and integrity as key values, we are empowering consumers to make educated and ethical choices about the food they consume. We always say that we are so lucky because as farmers, we get to eat the best beef around. Not only is it of a superior taste, but the cattle have been nurtured and cared for the way they should be.
Our farming practices are completely ethical. Our cattle are grass fed, free range and 100% hormone free. It seems to us, and only fair, that the public should be able to have the same access to this premium beef as we do. We have set up Farmers Beef Direct as an online business, where customers can order their beef direct from us here at the farm and have it delivered, free of charge, to their door. There are five farmers packs to choose from, each around 20 kg, offering a different assortment of cuts. Our beef is vacuum packed in meal size portions, all for the convenience of the customer.
Why would you not change your current circumstances for the world?
I have a healthy, loving family and live in the most beautiful part of the world. That aspect I would never want to change. In the future, we’ll endeavour to expand Farmers Beef Direct, so that more people have the opportunity to make informed choices with the food they consume. We are working hard at becoming ‘agvocates’ through an increased presence via social media. Our aim is to make people more aware of the importance of the Australian farmer and their families and the positive impact they have on our great land through sensible and sustainable farming practices. Multinational, corporate and foreign owned companies, in our opinion, tend to focus on profit rather then the health and wellbeing of our land and cattle. This generation must focus on improving the health and fertility of the land for those who follow in our footsteps. It’s just plain common sense (and a lot of hard work)!