Two farming mates from Canada and Australia have set up a business that’s linking agricultural workers with employers across the globe.

Story By Freda Nicholls

A Canadian and an Australian who both have a love of farming and travel have put their expertise together to create an agricultural-recruitment business in both countries. Cascade Recruitment (the Canadian side) and Positive Perfection (based in Albury, NSW) have become popular with young farmers wanting to work and travel in another country, and are also helping alleviate labour shortages on both sides of the globe.
Craig Ference, 28, from Kirriemuir in the Canadian province of Alberta, and his mate Stuart Austin, 27, both grew up on farms and have worked in each other’s countries. They felt they could improve on what they had experienced, from both the employer and employee perspective.
Craig first had the opportunity to work in Australia at the age of 18, straight out of school. He travelled to Moree, NSW, to work on an 84-year-old fellow Canadian’s 8000-hectare property for a year and found many similarities between the two countries. “I would have worked for nothing; the experience I gained was huge,” Craig says. “The equipment is often the same, the types of crops grown are the same and it’s a similar language, but it’s the seasons and the weather that are different.”
Being at high latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, Alberta has a shorter growing season than in Australia and moisture requirements for crops and pasture are obtained primarily from snow melts rather than rainfall. Even so, Craig says there are a lot of farming practices his home district has in common with southern New South Wales where Stuart grew up.
Born in western Victoria, Stuart and his family moved to Albury and then onto his grandparents’ property at nearby Burrumbuttock where they run sheep and cattle and breed working Kelpies. After finishing high school Stuart headed to the Northern Territory and was running station camps at the age of 19 before heading to Queensland and working on large cattle feedlots before travelling to Canada at the age of 24.
Stuart became involved with the Young Farmers Summit of the Americas and Canadian Young Farmers board and this is where he met Craig. The two like-minded farmers hit it off immediately and realised that they both had had similar experiences and that there was huge demand for young experienced agricultural workers in both their countries, especially at peak periods such as harvest, sowing and calving. “In Canada the agricultural industry loses a lot of young employees to work in the oil fields,” Craig says. “And here we have the mines,” Stuart says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #71

Outback Magazine: June/July 2010