I was recently asked "What do you expect for the industry?"
I answered that I expected the industry to handle all of its problems like it has in the past - by turning them into solutions.
The industry through my life has had problems with soil erosion, so we turned to no-till farming. This has had an impact on better germination and less wear and tear on machinery.
There are many examples where a different segment of agriculture - dairy, cropping, wool or pastoral - has had a problem and a solution improved the whole industry.
The question then was, why is it important for young people to be engaged in agriculture and for young people not involved in the industry to learn about it?
We, as active members of the agricultural industry, have a unique position in the social structure without even realising it.
One of the three basic human rights is food, and as an industry we have become so proficient at this basic human right that our friends and families living in non-rural communities don't even give it a second thought anymore.
In living memory there has never been such an interest in where food is produced.
There are practices carried out on a daily basis considered to be bad by people living in cities, and considered essential by farmers or industry professionals. Practices such as burning off or herbicide use are looked down on by consumers.
By being engaged with people not involved in our industry we can convey the point that these are not terrible practices, but essential and efficient practices with good science behind them or years of practice to ensure the sustainability of the industry.
This is where the great opportunity for the industry lies, especially with social media.
By bringing the fruit season to the forefront, by showing the grain being harvested that is so clean you can eat it straight out of the header box, and by showing all the tree lines that were planted 20 years ago for salt management, the industry has some great solutions to the problems already.
It will take the continued good will and the slow burn of a patient and wise industry to find the solution for this problem, but we are in good hands with the next generation of industry professionals.
There are further ways that new entrants, young people, can work with the current industry professionals to expand this great opportunity for the future. The simple solution is to get involved!
All actions start at home and in your local community. By supporting a strong local community you will have a solid base to start making positive change further into your specific field, be it beef, wheat production, grain marketing or even the accountants who are only appreciated at tax return time.
It can be as simple as volunteering at your local sports club or the Rural Fire Service.
- Henry Gratte is a director at the Future Farmers Network.