In Rockhampton in February, AgForce’s groundbreaking Young Producers’ Council met for the first time to set our priorities for the next two years.
Foundation sponsors Nutrien Ag Solutions and Suncorp were there to mark the occasion, and it was a chance to discuss what we believe will give young producers with a passion for agriculture – and agriculture full stop – the best chance to continue to succeed.
While rural wellness, ag education, diversifying income streams, and strengthening city/country ties will all feature in our awareness campaign, three areas stood out: succession planning, financial literacy, and climate.
If agriculture and regional Queensland is to continue to grow and prosper, we must be able to give young people wanting to work in the industry a start.
Several factors, including devastating drought and crippling red and green tape, have many current farming families questioning their future.
We therefore must encourage governments to address the current problems with regulation and establish schemes that fund and support under 40s without current ties to agriculture, to enter the industry.
Alongside that, we need to ensure young people have the necessary financial skills to survive and succeed on the land once they get there.
Farming isn’t only about cultivating land or raising stock. Managing a farm means managing a business. Budgets, balance sheets, income statements – we need to make sure these skills are taught.
Finally, we couldn’t consider the future of agriculture without thinking long and hard about climate and natural disaster resilience.
The Federal Government’s Future Drought Fund, which focusses on building resilience, is a step in the right direction, but legislation must take into account the needs of those in rural communities doing it tough.
There is already significant investment taking place on farm to reduce erosion and runoff, sequester carbon, and increase bio-diversity, with agriculture leading all other industries in Australia in reducing its carbon footprint.
Now it’s about getting the message out there about the great work already being done, and continuing it so that we ensure our landscapes and waterways are left in the best condition possible for future generations.