Some may think an industry that is subject to harsh weather conditions, including droughts and floods, and an increase in foreign ownership, isn’t sustainable, however young farmers see an opportunity.
A small business owner and farmer, 28-year-old Elise Bowen, said “absolutely there’s a future” for young Australian farmers.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of young people returning to agriculture and wanting to be apart of it,” she said.
“There’s going to be a bit of change, I think in the way farms are run and so there will be less of the family-farm model and more of people managing farms.”
Ms Bowen is an animal science graduate and admitted that as a young person starting up a farm solely without an established family farm or with low funds is “really hard” and costly.
“I think in the future there will be a lot of young people with tertiary education and bringing back a lot of knowledge and ideas to businesses and running the more business side of things.”
The Young Business Program is a state government four year initiative giving farmers access to new business ideas, tools, products and services and networks.
The program’s coordinator, Alexandra Hicks, said it’s all about teaching young farmers the skills to run a business.
“We look at GST and all the tricky parts of just getting started and showing that it’s more complicated than just getting an Australian business number,” Ms Hicks said.
“There’s a lot of information out there about industries and how to grow commodities, like growing wheat or the biggest zucchini, but for us it’s the behind the scenes and how you go about running that business.”
A mixed bag of young farmers aged between 18 and 35 years old were present at the workshop and ranged from different farming levels, to those from family oriented farms to a number of contractors supporting rural families.
Other farmers present were those looking to start up their own farm, with some individuals thinking about leasing some land over a short period of time to generate some profits.
After generating enough funds, they can buy a block of land and look into farming on a small scale and use their day jobs to supplement what they’re doing on the farm.
Despite the costly concerns of starting a farm from the ground up, accountant Dene Filpatrick who presented at the workshop said like any business, if farmers are running their farm “well, then there’s a profit to be made”.
“I’m always amazed at how resilient farmers are and if you’ve got an enterprise particularly if someone is supplementing through truck driving or anything from a builder, to fencing, then there’s definitely a profitability and future in farming,” Mr Filpatrick said.
Ms Hicks said the program has been very positive for young farmers and also gives them an opportunity to connect and network with local farmers their age.
“All over NSW, we have these young faces coming in and full rooms, everybody is so keen to learn and understand how to get started in the business of farming,” she said.