Holly Baker’s journey into an agricultural career has taken some curious turns. The daughter of a well-known large animal vet in Gunnedah, Mark Baker, she was raised on a cattle property that has been in the family for generations. Holly found herself at the age of 20 learning Indonesian and residing in a small village in East Java.
Woken by the 5am call to prayer each day in Salatiga, surrounded by high mountains, waterfalls and paddy fields, Holly Baker was ostensibly in Indonesia to complete her international and global studies degree through the University of Sydney.
It was a pleasant and formative deviation, but agriculture was always calling her back.
At the completion of her wordly degree, she knocked on the door of AuctionsPlus where she subsequently landed the responsibility of commercial market operations manager. An earlier gap year took her jillarooing in Carlton Hill Station in WA where up to 20,000 Brahman steers and heifers are prepared for Asian markets.
What exactly does that job look like? As Holly puts it, she spends her days supporting clients in everything from building the sale online to running it and then analysing and producing market reports. So, with all the insight into the market, what’s surprising her the most about this season?
“What hasn’t been an anomaly this year?,” Holly jokes.
“Bull sales have been a surprise. All the industry data tells us that the national herd is at its lowest in two decades, thanks to drought and subsequent increases in the slaughter of females. Logically, we would have expected both volume of bull purchases and price to be softer this year, but buyers are buying as many bulls as ever despite having fewer cows.”
She references the Munro family’s Booroomooka sale at Bingara this year. Overcoming border restrictions, over $2million was paid for 216 lots with sales up to $40,000 and an average of $10,638 achieved.
“I had some 160 bidders online for that sale and over 400 viewers watching from as far away as Tassie and South Australia” Holly reports.
Looking forward, she says she’s pleased to be seeing more saleyard interfaces booked for towards the end of the year.
“It’s always good to have saleyards as a staple in the sale line up.”
And the Beef Country Brahman sale in North Queensland is a highlight of the next few weeks.
“Getting into that northern Queensland market has been a focus for us this year, so we’re really looking forward to the Beef Country Brahman sale.”
“In terms of sheep, the white suffolk stud dispersal at Ramsay Park should get a lot of interest. And those sales are always a bit emotional too. “
Reflecting on International Rural Women’s Day, we put Holly on the spot to name three women she admires or appreciates.
“Even looking around my workplace, I can name ten, My colleague Ellen Simpson is the integrity manager, she’s worked for quite a few years in this space and really led the way on supply chain transparency.”
“Our family friend and local Liverpool Plains farmer Fiona Simson - president of the National Farmers Federation - has done a tonne of work to put farming on the national agenda and show the industry that the face of a farmer can absolutely be female.”
“And then, Erika Halliday at Ben Nevis. Watching her speak you can’t help but get swept up in her passion for her stud and the rich family history there. All you have to do is look at the results of her sale to see the great work she’s doing.”
At the Walcha sale in October, an eight-year-old Ben Nevis female set a new mature cow breed record of $82,000 eclipsing the previous record set by Texas Angus earlier this month, $60,000. An average of $9263 was achieved across the lots.
FInally, what does Holly think prices will do going forward?
“Prices across both sheep and cattle markets have proven to be enduringly strong.”
“We saw a bit of a lull over winter in sheep and lambs but they've certainly come back over spring. Prices are powering on, week after week.”