NEARLY three in four young farmers in NSW are experiencing business barriers, while almost half feel like they don’t have an opportunity to meet and network with other farmers.
But while our young producers say they’re facing a number challenges, a slight majority are pleasingly confident in their ability to make business decisions.
A 2017 survey of young farmers in NSW has shone a light on who and where are young farmers are, what they value, what they need, and what is standing in their way.
The July 2017 a survey of 251 young farmers who currently have a farming business, or aspire to start a business in the next 12 months, was conducted across 18 sectors of agriculture to inform the Young Farmer Business program.
The $6 million program was jointly developed by DPI and NSW Farmers, with the goal of increasing the number of young people engaged in the business of agriculture across NSW.
The Western Research Institute survey showed a slight male dominance (55 to 45 per cent) in young farming community, with beef, sheep meat, cropping, and wool the most represented commodities.
Crucially, 73 per cent of respondents said they were experiencing business barriers, while 48 per cent said they didn’t have opportunities to connect with other farmers.
Young producer Allison Mudford, “Yallambee”, Cassilis, said social and support networks were hugely important, but could difficult to forge if you were new to the industry or new to a region.
She moved to the Central West from Victoria three years ago with her husband and kids into an entirely new farming system.
Their 1000-hectare mixed farming enterprise is up an running, but would have benefited greatly from a stronger support network, she said.
“Having a ready-made network of farmers to go into would have been ideal when we moved,” she said.
“We had a lot to do with our neighbours and they were fantastic, but it can be quite hard to find like-minded people in your area and industry.
“The coaching, knowledge sharing, and moral support is really important.”
She said young farmers in NSW were crying out for practical business, finance and management tips.
“Things like the (Young Farmer Business Program) are really going to provide a lot of the tools we found hard to find when we were going through the early process,” she said. “It was a very very stressful time for us in hindsight.”
The Young Farmer Business Program has developed a new website to provide easy access to resources, tools and information. Farmers can subscribe to the e-newsletter or receive SMS messages to their mobile phone to find out about upcoming events and opportunities.