Don't be afraid to reach out for help

Don't be afraid to reach out for help

Opinion
Financial counsellor Shannon McCormack, guest speaker Sarah Sivyer, Jamie-Lee Oldfield and financial counsellor Angela Hayes at Denman Start-Up Stories.

Financial counsellor Shannon McCormack, guest speaker Sarah Sivyer, Jamie-Lee Oldfield and financial counsellor Angela Hayes at Denman Start-Up Stories.

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Connectivity is one of the biggest hurdles the food and fibre industry currently has to face.

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Connectivity is one of the biggest hurdles the food and fibre industry currently has to face.

But I don't mean in terms of an internet connection strong enough and reliable enough to run a business.

Nor am I referring to the ever-present gap between those who work on and in agriculture, and those who consume the products at the other end.

It is connectivity with each other, enabling continuous education and extension, which seems to be holding back some of the industry's enthusiastic up and coming participants.

Having been travelling around rural NSW hosting young farmer networking events in conjunction with the NSW DPI's Young Farmer Business Program over the past few months, I have had the privilege of coming across plenty of ag-enthusiasts from different backgrounds.

A very small number of those coming along to hear from a young farmer with some business savvy and an interesting story about their journey into agriculture, are currently running their own farm business.

Some work on-farm in the agriculture industry.

Some are facing succession planning at home.

A fair few are wanting to somehow, in someway, start their own farming enterprise, and are keen to hear from anyone who may be able to assist them in getting it over the line.

Chatting to all those groups, a couple of the same conversations keep surfacing.

The first being, whichever their current path in the industry, it wasn't easy - and they needed all the help they could get.

Whether that was financial literacy support to apply for loans; legal support as they enter the financial business; mental health support as they face high debt burdens in a drought; everyone could do with a bit of help.

And the second was the hesitation they had before coming along to the Start-Up Stories event.

Some thought they shouldn't be there because they weren't quite ready to start their own business.

Some thought it might not have been for them because they didn't work on-farm.

Some weren't sure how it could help them out.

This made me think - how many people am I not speaking to in the industry because they weren't sure the event was for them?

Or they weren't getting that support they needed to be able to take a couple of hours off?

There's a very good chance someone in the industry is facing the exact same challenges as you or has faced them in the past.

Connecting with them could offer you just the support you need.

The number of support mechanisms and ways to connect with other industry members is definitely growing in agriculture.

Please don't be afraid to reach out and use them.

  • Jamie-Lee Oldfield is the Future Farmers Network executive officer.
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