Opportunities for youth is key to future of agriculture

Maintaining a vibrant agriculture sector means providing opportunities for young people to enter the profession.

Yet research indicates a 75 per cent drop in the number of farmers aged under 35 years since 1976, primarily due to fewer opportunities for younger people to enter agriculture.

The current NSW Government is focussed on strengthening the links between agricultural research, education and agriculture extension but it needs to go further. The challenge is to facilitate new farmers to enter or continue in farming and agribusiness.

NSW Young Farmers councillor Tim Carroll said: “The barriers faced by young people wanting to enter agriculture continue to be a hot topic at our young farmer meetings.”

Recent NSW Young Farmers meetings at Corowa and Hay are a case in point. Attendees at these meetings have joined the #StandUp4Farmers campaign agreeing to make a stand for their rural communities and future farming peers on this important issue.

Mr Carroll said: “We are calling the next NSW Government to create meaningful programs and not just about succession planning between family generations. We need strategies to attract new entrants and help them build resilient farming operations.”

“It’s about know-how - being able to get the funds together and ensuring the investment will create a viable business.

“That is why we are calling for a stakeholder roundtable on the issue. Let’s get all the players together to build on past incentives as well as capitalise on the learnings from federal and interstate programs already in operation.

“Government needs to recognise the high barriers to entry into the agricultural sector and the importance of youth in this field.

“Our future food security and the vitality of regional areas depend on passionate, innovative young people staying in, or taking up, agriculture.

“Creating such a program not only means that agriculture has a prosperous future, but that country kids remain in country towns and the longevity of agriculture is maintained.

“A commitment from the incoming government to begin seriously discussing this issue would be a step in the right direction,” Mr Carroll concluded.

ends

19 March 2015  

Contact: Veneta Chapple

Phone: 0429 990 218

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