Succession planning for agri-politics

The agri-politics sector has a dreadful record when it comes to retaining young people

WE’VE been told for years that succession planning is one of the major issues confronting the agriculture sector, and it's absolutely correct.

With no clear pathway through the family business, young farmers are becoming increasingly disgruntled and walking away from agriculture, with the result that the industry loses valuable skills.

But it's not just the commercial sector reeling from a lack of planning on how to involve the next generation.

The agri-politics sector has a dreadful record when it comes to retaining young people throughout the system.

There have been many examples over the past decade when young and enthusiastic people have become involved in the representative space only to become burnt out and jaded, exiting the space.

The numbers far exceed the natural attrition rate than you would expect – so what is going wrong?

For starters it appears an unwillingness to hand over goes far beyond giving the young blokes the keys to the tractor.

Privately, many young leaders say they feel like any decisions they have made have been undermined by the old guard. This may not play out in the public sphere but there have been various attempted coups, mischievous use of party process and various other tactics used to stymie attempts at change.

It's fair enough to voice concerns regarding the direction of a group - experienced heads are critical in providing checks and balances and ensuring decisions are not made in haste, but a culture of discouraging change is pervasive in some grain lobby groups.

Some have a real inability to accept consensus decisions that don’t follow their own opinions, instead opting to take their bat and ball and go home, thus creating disunity within the impacted organisations.

There’s a lot of teeth gnashing about the inability to attract and retain a youthful presence in state farmer organisations.

Sure it's difficult to get people involved, but it would seem a bit of a no-brainer that if you want to hold onto people, you don’t go undermining any decisions they are elected to make.

As it is, the stocks of grain production lobby groups are at low levels, commanding very little clout because of the fractured nature of representation - lack of intergenerational respect is only going to dilute that influence any further.

Gregor Heard

Gregor Heard

is the national grains writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


17/04/2014 11:10:22 AM

In order to get into Agri-politics you have to be old enough to have failed at farming.
17/04/2014 2:29:00 PM

Agri-politics is heavily guarded by people who have made a substantial living clipping-the-ticket on this industry. It's been a honey pot for them. There are many flashy vehicles in this industry that should technically have Government number plates.
17/04/2014 3:51:44 PM

Hey it is pretty dumb all unifying together to make good progress if you are headed in the wrong direction!
19/04/2014 6:38:08 PM

I was a young person very successful in agripolitics and burnt out because when my father retired and with a young family I simply didn't have the time or the money to continue sacrificing to represent those that didn't care a dam or could only criticize from the sideline. Make no mistake, there is no honey pot and very little reward for representing agriculture but I will say the support I had from the old farts in the organization was amazing even if they disagreed with me. The problem is with the crowd that can't be bothered turning up for the game, not the team on the field.
jack tancock
22/04/2014 8:33:12 AM

I know where you are coming from Logic and I agree with what you say about the crowd that can't be bothered to turn up for the game. It is a major issue, but not only in the farm sector. That is why so many "rent a crowd" type action groups get so much traction in our Country, on nonsense platforms, especially using the social media network. Apathy is too wide spread. So our industry gets criticized for a knee jerk reaction after an event that we failed to prepare for, if only the lazy apathetic majority had been in on the policy process initially.
Bushfire Blonde
22/04/2014 10:26:48 AM

One reason why a lot of people are apathetic is because they have made previous efforts to fix things through their local farming organization only to have their ideas canned by those higher up in the organization. Consequently, they have been saying to themselves "what is the use of bothering".
22/04/2014 11:11:38 AM

Deregulate and corporatise and then you rely on the law to ensure companies abide by rules that have delivered the mining sector their boom.
22/04/2014 12:51:02 PM

Logic: if the 'team' spent a bit more time engaging with the crowd instead of each other. you might get their interest. The simple fact that you talk about the 'crowd' is your whole problem. If you want to be a leader first of all you have to lead. Not some cliquey little team, but make the 'crowd' as you call them a part of your team.
A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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