YOUNG farmers want to blaze a trail – but a guiding hand from the older generation would be much appreciated.
That’s the take from Future Farmers Network executive officer Toby Locke, who says the message was clear from the 800 young Australian farmers who completed his group’s 2017 survey.
Career path advice topped the list of areas the youth want the Network to focus on, with new technology and financial literacy rounding out the top three.
Mr Locke, Tamworth, said a sound grounding in finance and business was essential for emerging farmers, but many were missing out on that opportunity with the face of farming in Australia continuing to change. He said it was key for the older generation of farmers to help teach young people, who are increasingly accessing the industry in less conventional ways.
“On the farm, what we see is a need to go back to basics and, from the start, involve young people in the business side of things, make sure they’ve got that grounding,” Mr Locke said.
“Not everyone these days has the opportunity to learn from living on the farm, or to further their studies, so it does help if the experienced guys can reach out a bit. The more they can expose young people to the ins and outs the better, and that includes the negative side of things: Financial lossess, drought, debt… Young people need to be engaged in these conversations.”
Mr Locke said the needs of Future Farmers Network responders echo somewhat the discussion at last week’s parliament house roundtable, where young farming representatives from across regional NSW shared their concerns and experiences on finance and land ownership.
Mr Locke suggested to that meeting that young farmers needed to go back to basics and be given the right education on finance and business. He said initiatives such as the Young Farmer Business Project were helping.
About 800 young farmers completed the Network’s 2017 survey – 55pc women and 45pc men – with 90pc of responders being in the 18-to-34 age bracket. The highest ranked policy issues among young Australian agriculture professionals were water and natural resource management, drought and education.