Grazier talks life on the land
BORN and raised in the Snowy Mountains, Jim Pola has been following the cattle routes north his whole life.
This week sees him catching up with old mates at the Central Queensland Lifestock Exchange’s Brahman Days at Gracemere.
He has been making the annual trip down from Townsville, where he works as a digital marketer, via Nebo, where he breeds Brahmans, since 1988.
Polar Bear Brahmans focuses on improving cattle lines through genetic innovations, including semen, IA and flushing technologies.
“It’s a tough game and, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can go broke quick,” he said.
“You don’t go into the cattle game thinking you’re going to make a million quid.
“You don’t hold onto stock thinking the market will go up ten cents next week; when it’s time to sell and pay the bills, you do it.”
Mr Pola said it’s the love for land and passion for cattle that keeps the industry going no matter how tough things get.
“It’s bred into you right from the womb,” he said.
“But say you have four kids you’ve brought up on the land, educating them from home, then these mining jobs come along and you can’t match what they pay.
“This country is losing a generation of graziers to another lifestyle.
“It’s not like you can go and buy them their own place to keep them on the land either, with anything decent starting at ten million.”
“Who’s going to give a bloke my age that kind of a loan?”
Mr Pola said the government should put licensing arrangements into place to protect the traditional stock routes.
Especially in a time of drought, some graziers return to the practice of moving cattle along ‘the long paddock’, allowing them to feed on the verges.
“But you get the likes of a major agricultural company, which I won’t name, going to sale along the stock route,” he said.
“They’ve got more country than anybody else in Australia and they’re clogging up the routes because they’ve got no grass left on their place.
“Is it fair that little old Joe Bloggs who runs only 30 head of cattle can’t get on there because of the big fella’s cattle?”
“You should have to apply for it, get told a time to get on and get off it, and give somebody else a fair go.”
Mr Pola is also an outspoken advocate for live exports.
“It’s not fashionable but if we didn’t have live exports, we wouldn’t have a beef industry,” he said.
“The meatworks govern their prices, so it’s the live exports where you can make competitive prices.”