Image Upload

File size must be less than 2Mb

You must have online publishing permission or full ownership of this image

File types (jpg, png, gif)

  • Hero image
    FOUND HIS CALLING: Banyena farmer Dougal McAllister will use a $10,000 ‘upskill and invest’ scholarship to pursue further education and implement new skills on-farm. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

AgLife: Dougal wins scholarship to upskill and invest


Banyena’s Dougal McAllister will use a $10,000 scholarship to pursue further education in business management, leadership and decision-making to improve profitability on his family farm.

Mr McAllister, 28, is one of 13 recipients of 2021 Upskill and Invest Young Farmers Scholarship Awards, which highlight the important role young farmers play in Victoria’s $17.8-billion agricultural industry.

Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas presented the farmers with their scholarships at a ceremony in Melbourne.

Article continues below

The program, which has awarded 89 scholarships since 2015, supports young farmers with up to $10,000 to boost their skills and careers. 

Each recipient is eligible for up to $5000 to upskill through study and training, followed by $5000 to put new skills into practice with on-farm equipment and technology or further professional development.

Mr McAllister said he would use the ‘upskill’ portion of his scholarship to complete a business fundamentals course through RCS, Resource Consulting Services.

“That’s about three to four days and I’m doing a six-month course called Next Steps through them as well,” he said.

“It’s pretty much a mentorship program with another farmer. The RCS people pay and we’ll catch up a few times and chat on the phone and implement the things I have learnt through the course.

“I’ve done another course with RCS so we’ll do some of that too.”

Mr McAllister splits his time between working on his family’s sheep farm and for the Trotter family at Rupanyup.

“I grew up at Banyena and then I was living in Melbourne, where I studied environmental science, before the farm called me back,” he said.

“Dad retired and sold all his gear and I decided to come home after he did that, so we’re slowly buying back gear. 

“We’ve got plenty of sheep back home but no cropping, so the Trotters do the cropping, we do the sheep and when Paul needs a hand I give him a hand.”

Mr McAllister said becoming a farmer was not ‘always on the agenda’.

“I always liked farming but I don’t love sitting on tractors all day,” he said.

“Sheep work is really good for me and we’re transitioning our farm into more regenerative agriculture, trying to measure more accurate inputs and incorporate rheology in the system.

“There’s lots of trials going on with that and trying to figure out what does work and what doesn’t.

“We’re also trying to improve soil carbon and we’ve started doing a few carbon projects. 

“It will be interesting to see how they go.”

Ms Thomas said giving young farmers access to higher educational opportunities improved productivity and profitability of their businesses and ensured Victoria stayed at the forefront of global modern farming.

“Young farmers are the future of Victoria’s agriculture industry and we are excited to invest in their skills to support a strong, innovative and sustainable sector,” she said.

“The calibre of the 2021 applicants was excellent and showcases the passion of our young producers to excel in this industry. 

“There’s no doubt that the future of our agriculture sector is in the best hands.”

The government will open the 2022 Young Farmers Scholarship program mid next year. People can visit website for more information.

The entire December 22, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire December 22, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!