IT HAS been heartening to see the growing emergence of young people in agriculture in recent years.
As the median age for farmers steadily increases – according to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data it now sits at 53 years compared to 40 for most other occupations – it becomes more important for youngsters to step up and get involved in the industry.
They need opportunities to become producers and agricultural industry leaders and maintain their interest in an industry that is pivotal to the Australian economy.
Whether this is fostered through involvement on the family farm, talking to friends, through local agricultural bureaus or even interactions with agricultural specialists or young professional groups is irrelevant – what is important is that interest is encouraged and allowed to grow.
The agricultural industry will face a dire future when the current generation of producers decide to retire unless something changes.
The Barossa Young People in Agriculture's Agtastic Conference last month in South Australia is an example of a group fostering young and exciting partnerships.
The group was founded last year, after recommendations from former Adelaide Thinker in Residence Andrew Fearne to support young people in agriculture.
Mr Fearne investigated food and wine value chains as part of his residency and realised young professionals in agriculture were not networking, which ultimately meant that food and wine systems would break down.
The group held several workshops to discuss key issues, with access to land, attitudes towards agriculture and getting a financial start identified as three major concerns.
The conference focused on networking, community engagement and involvement and education – all important values in rural and regional areas.
The days of Rural Youth may be long gone, but it is heartening to think a new band of young producers is rising to the fore.
There are many such groups scattered across the country, so make sure you take the opportunity and share your passion for agriculture.