Wimmera Young Farmers: Glenorchy's Damien Cooper believes community is important | Photos

Wimmera Farmer presents a monthly feature that profiles young people in agriculture and looks at what drove them to a life on the land.

GLENORCHY’S Damien Cooper believes farming in a small community is more than working on the land, it’s about giving back.

Damien, 30, grew up on his family’s mixed farming enterprise.

“I was born into farming, like most people in the industry,” he said.

“It’s pretty hard to get into it otherwise.”

Glenorchy's Damien Cooper at home on his family's farm. Picture: AYESHA SEDGMAN

Glenorchy's Damien Cooper at home on his family's farm. Picture: AYESHA SEDGMAN

His family’s business is about 70 per cent cropping and 30 per cent dohne self-replacing stud.

While Damien had farming in his blood, his parents encouraged him to pursue a different course.

“I was always encouraged to either get an apprenticeship or go to university and get a degree,” he said.

He studied a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Bachelor of Business at La Trobe University.

“Towards the end of my degree, I made the decision to come back home and continue farming with my father and uncle,” he said.

“The degrees were useful though – especially a business degree because these days all farmers need to have a bit of an idea of financing.”

“People have to put up their hand and help out with at least one thing, otherwise you are just taking from your community and not giving anything.”

Glenorchy farmer Damien Cooper

Damien enjoys a life on the land.

“Obviously there are years like the past couple have been, which are tough,” he said.

“I saw a few tough years growing up as well.

“But you don’t know what tough years are really like until you are working in them.

“Then you have years like this one and 2010 and 2011, which were pretty fantastic.

“There are ups and downs with farming, just like there are days when you hate it and days when you love it.”

Damien also does contract harvesting and bailing.

Community-minded

Damien is president of the Rupanyup Major Events committee.

He said he was invited along to a meeting about six years ago.

“I didn’t know anything about it – I knew it was a committee that organised the Barley Banquet but I had never been to a banquet,” he said. “My agronomist invited me and I turned up and it was a committee meeting.

“I’ve been involved ever since.”

Damien said the committee was a good opportunity to catch up with other people.

He said it was vital that people in smaller communities were involved in committees.

“You don’t have to go on every committee that’s going round, but I would encourage everyone living in the country to be on at least one committee,” he said.

Glenorchy's Damien Cooper inspects a wheat crop on his family's farm. Picture: AYESHA SEDGMAN

Glenorchy's Damien Cooper inspects a wheat crop on his family's farm. Picture: AYESHA SEDGMAN

“The lack of people out there these days with people moving away and farms consolidating makes it difficult.

“People have to put up their hand and help out with at least one thing, otherwise you are just taking from your community and not giving anything back.” Damien is also a member of Birchip Cropping Group’s young farmer group.

“It’s just a bunch of people who are similar age to me with similar ideas,” he said.

“It’s a great way to try to find out what’s relevant in farming and it’s always handy to compare notes with other farmers – you learn more from other people.”

Damien said the group also gave him an opportunity to break up the work cycle.

What’s next?

WHILE there are no guarantees in farming, Damien hoped he would still be hard at work with his family in the next five to 10 years.

“Hopefully we have a bit of consistency in the seasons though,” he said. “It would be great in 10 years time if we are in the same position that we are now – if not better.”

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