Australian Farmer of the Year winners call for more young people in ag
Story Added : 01st April 2011
For the 2010 CBH Group Grain Grower of the Year Award winner, 30-year-old Nic Harrison, winning the title was a confidence builder and reassurance that he was on the right track in his farming enterprise.
“It’s been excellent. I’ve received a lot of media attention —I’ve been in all the local papers, I’ve put the small Mallee town of Sea Lake on the map and the wider agricultural industry has been very supportive of me,” he said.
“Generally farmers are shy to enter a competition like this. But once you start to write down what you have achieved, you realise how much you have done and it provides you the extra motivation to keep on continually improving.”
“And hopefully I can inspire others to enter and get excited about this great industry.”
Mr Harrison, along with Kondinin Group/ABC Rural Farmer of the Year, Ross Woodhouse and Rabobank Farm Industry Leader of the Year, Keith Perrett are particularly concerned about the lack of young people entering the agricultural industry.
“At the moment agriculture colleges are screaming out for applicants and the average age of the Australian farmer is getting towards 55 or 60 so we really need young people to take up a career in agriculture,” Mr Harrison said.
Mr Woodhouse is particularly concerned that the recent hardships resulting from various natural disasters around the nation may further deter young people from entering the agricultural sector.
“We’ve got to be careful as farmers not to continually beat the drum about the negative message,” he said.
“We’ve got a responsibility; we talk about not being able to encourage young people into agriculture but on a daily basis we’re talking about how tough it is.”
“No matter what sector of the agricultural industry you’re in – and your having a tough season, or your having a tough time with the bank, don’t lose sight of the fact that food is going to be number one in the world. Number one on top of real estate, on top of minerals, on top of everything, because no matter what pursuits people have, they’ve still got to eat.”
Keith Perrett is as equally as passionate about attracting young people into agriculture, enthusiastically describing the wide range of career paths young people can select in the agricultural industry.
“It doesn’t matter where or what you want to do in the industry – if you want to be a support mechanism for the farm sector such as an agronomist or a business consultant, whether you want to go into research – which is unbelievably exciting at the moment – or whether you want to pursue a farm manager role, the opportunities are endless.”
To hear the Australian Farmer of the Year interviews in full click here.
The Australian Farmer of the Year Awards celebrates the innovative spirit of Australian farmers and aims to inspire and encourage career choices and investment in Australian agriculture. The Awards are hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural. The call for 2011 Award nominations will be announced in coming months.