FROM holding an umbrella for his father as the pair drove the header together, to leading Victoria’s peak agriculture lobby group, Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke believes he was destined for a life on the land.
Fairfax Media is profiling farmers from across the state as part of Tuesday’s National Agriculture Day.
Mr Jochinke said he always knew he wanted to work in agriculture, but it was his keen interest in the community that helped him branch out into other areas of the industry.
“Growing up on a farm, I always had a keen interest to see what my grandfather and father were up,” he said.
“I loved riding on the machinery with my dad, even back when we had to use an umbrella for shade on the header.
“I always enjoyed working outside and being around whatever was happening.”
Mr Jochinke said as soon as he finished high school, he went to work on his family’s farm.
“Farming really is an opportunity for the whole family to be involved,” he said.
“Even though it is a workplace, there is an opportunity for people to be involved from an early age.”
Mr Jochinke studied at Longerenong College following high school and gained a diploma of agriculture.
“I would go to Longy during the day and work on the farm at night,” he said.
Mr Jochinke then started to pursue other interests in the industry, as one door would open after the next.
“Not long after I finished my diploma I had the opportunity to go to Canberra for a young farmers program,” he said.
“That exposed me to other people outside the region who had different thoughts and ways of production.
“I can really pinpoint that experience as starting my passion for looking at agriculture in different ways and I wanted to experience as much as the industry as I could.”
By then, Mr Jochinke had also started his journey with the Victorian Farmers Federation and was part of the district council in the region.
“Through the young farmers program I met Dooen’s Dean Johns, who was a Nuffield Scholar – I then set my sights on applying for a scholarship.”
Mr Jochinke then spent some time backpacking in Europe and looking at international agriculture techniques.
In 2006, he became one of the youngest winners of the Nuffield Scholarship at age 29.
He used his scholarship to study how farmers influenced industry and government.
“That opportunity took me all over the world,” he said.
Last year, Mr Jochinke was elected president of the Victorian Farmers Federation.
“I struggle to think of anything else I would rather be doing."Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke
“I am very fortunate that a lot of members put faith in me to be part of organisation - I’m a mouthpiece for their concerns and I work hard to make sure everyone’s voices are heard,” he said.
“The job keeps me busy, but it also takes me away from the farm.
“Whenever I go to meetings, I meet people who are passionate about farming and that is what drives me to do what I can for them.”
Mr Jochinke said he had always been a strong believer of getting involved in community groups.
“If you want to make things happen, you have to put in,” he said.
Mr Jochinke said at the end of the day, the best thing about farming was seeing the fruits of your labour.
“Farming can be bittersweet, for example this year with the bad frost we had,” he said.
“But the part I really enjoy is seeing what you’ve achieved – you’ve planted the crop, prepared the paddock and physically achieved something at the end of the season.
“Farmers need to be resilient – when times are tough you have to pick yourself up and go again, that’s the hard part.
“But the real special part of the industry is that most of your neighbours are in the same boat and it’s that common interest that brings people together.”
Mr Jochinke said while his political involvements might come and go, his home would always be on the farm.
“I struggle to think of anything else I would rather be doing,” he said.