YOUNG Wagga farmers are forsaking their family’s land to pursue their own studies in what could lead to an agricultural exodus, according to a prominent solicitor.
Commins Hendriks Solicitor-Director Bill Thompson has pleaded with the NSW government to make a last ditch effort to save the region’s farming future.
He claims producers have been “struggling to survive” as more and more young people are attracted to the bright lights and opportunities in metropolitan cities.
“Unfortunately the old adage that ‘handing on the family farm is a form of child abuse’ is accepted by too many families as reality,” he said.
“It’s important for the future of agriculture to tackle this issue head-on, and that requires leadership from the Berejiklian government.
“We cannot let generations of farmers die out.”
The Coolamon-based lawyer believes a negative perception is damaging the industry.
“I believe one of the biggest obstacles for young farmers is the negativity of parents and grandparents,” Mr Thompson said.
“I would encourage the government to appoint an independent expert, such as Charles Sturt University research professor Jim Pratley, to look at the different options available for young people to become actively involved in agriculture.”
Young farmer and agricultural innovator Anika Molesworth – who was one of four people recognised at the 2017 NSW Young Australian of the Year Awards – has long rallied to support the industry.
She said getting the latest generation interested in agriculture was a “significant hurdle” in the region’s farming progress.
“Getting people interested is one of the biggest challenges for the industry,” she said.
Quinton Price, a former farm boy turned audio engineering student, believes people should be given the freedom to pursue their dreams.
“My parents may have been big on the country living but I just knew it wasn’t for me,” he said.
“I can’t blame the government if they want to encourage people towards agriculture, but at the end of the day people should have the freedom to do what they want to do.
“If I had to stay on the farm, I wouldn’t have been passionate about it.”
A review into agricultural education was commissioned in 2012.