Tom Sharp decided early in life he never wanted to be a farmer.
Fast forward 20 odd years and his love for agriculture has superseded every alternative he tried his hand at.
Tom’s early years were spent immersed in his father’s family’s merino sheep operation near Hamilton in south west Victoria.
His family later moved to Portland, Victoria, and took over the running of a lamb feedlot previously owned by his mother’s parents.
“When live export started up down here it was originally planned to operate out of Geelong,” Tom said.
“My Grandfather got wind of this and talked them into loading out of Portland instead, using his feedlot as a quarantine station.
“It’s quite unique- our registration number (LAE001) signifies the first live animal assembly registered in Australia.”
Despite this family history, Tom said he hadn’t pictured himself working in agriculture at all.
“I probably didn’t see it as a love thing,” he said.
“Dad worked so hard while I was growing up and the feedlot was quite intensive compared to typical farming or grazing scenarios where much of the work can be done as a family.
“I’d always been good with numbers so I had a go at engineering at uni in Melbourne until I realised it wasn’t for me.
“I studied teaching and taught high school maths and science on a two year contract and started reassessing my options as the end of that contract drew near.”
Unbeknown to Tom, the stars were aligning for him to make his mark in agriculture.
“I received a message from my parents saying I should think about coming home soon if I was interested,” he said.
“While I’d done short stints at home between university studies I hadn’t given it much thought as a long-term career path, but it looked like my parents were keen to step back a little and pass on some responsibility to me.
“I always wanted to give something back to Mum and Dad so I thought I’d head home for a couple of years to help out…five years have passed and I’m loving it.”
Tom’s day to day role involves managing the quarantine facility, which plays a crucial link in the live export supply chain between the farmer and the export ships.
“The centre now caters solely for cattle,” Tom said.
“Stock are sourced from various Australian locations and my job is to manage them while they’re in quarantine before they’re trucked to the loading docks, essentially safeguarding their food, water, health and welfare and ensuring they’re fit to travel on ships.
“The main driver for me is wanting the best for the animals and knowing they’re in good condition before the next leg of their journey.
“I love a challenge and there’s no shortage of learning opportunities in this industry.
“I fell in love with ag this way and feel fortunate to play a role in such a big part of Australia’s protein production.”