Leasing our Farmers Future

Our Young Farming Champions and I are lucky enough to meet lots of exciting young people through the increasing profile of Art4Agriculture. It was a pleasure to work with rising star young journalism student Courtney Deeth recently who achieved a High Distinction for this well researched and articulated expose on the challenges of young people entering the farming sector

Increased foreign ownership of Australian rural real-estate, high level of risk, and long out-dated laws, has seen leasing become an unpopular choice amongst our farmers in an already volatile industry.

But with rising land prices and an ageing farming population, it seems as though it may be the only option in the years to come.

Award-winning dairy farmer, Lynne Strong, is leading the way to the farming future in our country, and proves that it is possible to have a successful career on land that you don’t own.

She opens her farm gate to Courtney Deeth.

Listen to Courtney’s award winning interview with Lynne and Young Farming Champion Jess Monteith  here Leasing our farmer’s future   

Jessica Monteith

Young Farming Champion Jessica Monteith looks forward to combining her passion for dairy cows with a career in the agribusiness sector

Young Guns out in force at the NSW Farmers conference

It was great to see our very own Cotton Young Farming Champion Richie Quigley up on the stage at the NSW Farmers conference receiving his EL O’Brien memorial scholarship from Premier Barry O’Farrell

Barry OFarrell Richie Quigley Fiona Simson 

Premier Barry O’Farrell, Richie Quigley and Fiona Simson President of NSW Farmers 

Chair of the scholarship selection panel Sarah Thompson said the scholarships were one of the many benefits available to NSW Farmers families and she was pleased to award this year’s scholarships to a group of dedicated students who would play a strong role in agriculture and rural communities across NSW in the future. She said rural communities were currently demanding a variety of skills and this year’s scholarship recipients were studying a broad range of subjects from medicine to animal science, law and agriculture.

“It is important that NSW Farmers acknowledge the achievement of students across a broad range of subjects and the different ways in which these students are able to contribute to rural communities through their chosen field. Young skilled professionals are important for rural communities and the industries such as agriculture which support them.” Ms Thompson said

Also starring at the NSW Farmers’ conference was Beef Young Farming Champion (sponsored by NSW Farmers ) the pocket rocket that is Tegan Nock. As chair of the NSW Farmers Young Farmer Council Tegan wowed the audience with her speech delivery. 

 Tegan Nock 4660

Love those Green Apples hanging on the wall behind Tegan Nock

Here are a few excerpts from Tegan’s address to the 300 plus crown

This year has seen big changes for the Young Farmer membership base of the association, as the Young Farmers Council moves to target more specifically the needs of our members.

Late last year, our council set out to answer the questions of what our Young members want from a membership & how they can be best engaged with the greater Association.

Responses overwhelmingly focused on working to secure a support scaffold for those entering farming for the first time and the formation of a strong rural network offering access to practical information and opportunities to meet in both a professional and social capacity.

By addressing these needs, the Young Farmers Council hopes to attract and retain more youth in agriculture, support those entering farming in NSW, help to maintain sustainable rural communities and act as a succession plan for the association.

The Association has identified a need for our members to personally act as advocates for our industry.

As Australian agriculture increasingly comes under scrutiny from various groups in relation to environmental and welfare issues, we are finding that the ability to talk directly to consumers is continuing to grow with the popularity of social media as an information source.

Farmers are using social media to tell their own stories, and share the reasons behind our practices and industry decisions. This is beginning to provide some balance in the arguments which are more frequently calling for governmental policy that serves to impose further red tape on our businesses. This year it has been fantastic to see the number of people involved in Agriculture in NSW on various media platforms sharing positive farming stories.

NSW Young Farmers will continue to offer information and workshops on the use of social media as an advocacy tool, and welcome the Association’s support of the Art4Agriculture program, established by Mrs Lynne Strong, which offers young people from across Australia both training, and platforms to share positive stories about our industry, whilst encouraging others to consider a career in Agriculture.

The new Council in collaboration with the Armidale District Council hosted a Production Tour of the New England region in April, which highlighted innovative efficiencies in grazing, livestock and wool production. This initiative drew members and non-members from across the State, and provided an insight into the latest research from The University of New England, and some of the most productive farming businesses within the region.

The event was credit to Council members Joanna Newton and David Gale, and the Armidale District Council.

In the wake of the Armidale tour, the Council received a large number of requests for an event based in the south of the state. The Council, in collaboration with the Cootamundra District Council is currently in planning stages for an event that will focus on the business side of farming, anticipating topics such as Business structure & start-up, farm leasing & share farming options, and small business finance, taxation & law.

The Young farmers are also working on forming strategic collaborations with other groups within the state to increase our membership base and offer greater access to service & events. The Young Farmers have worked with the Royal Agricultural Society Youth Group over the year, and are set to continue this partnership into the future.

We believe that together our Young Farmers can achieve our vision of ensuring the longevity of a dynamic, sustainable, prosperous and respected food & fibre sector.

Feeding vs housing the world. No right or wrong choices

In our endeavour to share the great stories of agriculture with as many young people as possible through the Archibull Prize we give as many points in the competition for the multimedia elements as we do for the artwork on the students Archie

One of the key multimedia elements is the blog. In this element the students are asked to produce a weekly web blog which documents the journey of their artwork and their learnings. As part of the program there are a number of compulsory blogs posts.

One of these blogs asks students to reflect on the challenges of feeding, clothing and housing the world and getting the balance right.

This is a big gig and is only going to get bigger in their lifetimes and they have some tough decisions to make. What they will find is there will be no right or wrong choices, just the best choice at that time.

As always we want to know what everyone thinks before they start the program. Lets have a look.

We asked both the primary school students (blue) and the secondary school students (red) what land use they thought was the most important. They had to choose between mining, housing, natural parks and food OR all of them

Which land use is most important

Do you find it fascinating the students think its more important to have more land put aside to look after our native flora and fauna than it is to house people?

But in the main most people thought all of them were equally important. So how do you get a balance and what challenges do our farmers face to feed and clothe people and compete with land for mining, natural parks and housing

Just a few challenges I can think of

  • Growing population – Increasing demand for food
  • Urbanization
  • Globalization
  • Changing patterns of consumption
  • Regulations & market conditions (local / national / international)
  • Limited natural resources land, water, biodiversity, soil, energy
  • Climate change & environmental impact
  • Bio-energy
  • Health & wellness
  • Food safety & emerging pathogens and pests
  • Public acceptance of modern farming practices

Its too big of a wicked problem for me so I am going to defer to some expert opinion I came across recently  in The Conversation

Firstly this article ‘Growing out versus filling in: how about we all grow up?’

A number of issues raised in the article resonated with me

The enduring nature of the debate suggests that we’ve reached a stalemate that is unlikely to be broken by proponents of either side simply shouting louder.

This is not a simple black and white argument, and there are often unacknowledged trade-offs that arise when one stance is pitched against the other.

Food production

Concern about the loss of traditional farmland for urban development has been growing in recent times in Australia. Media and academia alike have warned of a threat to food security as cities rely increasingly on mass-produced agricultural products from distant Australian and international producers. Concern over food miles has led many commentators to call for greater protection of peri-urban agricultural land.

Simultaneously there are calls for the growth of urban agriculture. Food produced within the urban matrix can occur in high density urban contexts, but it’s perhaps most effective in low-density suburban areas where backyards offer ample space. Designing cities to maximise urban agriculture may therefore have the perverse outcome of the expansion of city boundaries into traditional farmland.

Human health and well-being

The recent focus on neighbourhood design and its role in supporting health and well-being has also made its way into the debate about density. For example, low density arrangements usually provide better access to nature through the greater availability of (public and private) green space. Green space is important for exercise and social interaction, while contact with nature more broadly can improve mental well-being and provide psychological restoration.

However, due to their distance from the city centre, low density suburbs can be isolating. They often lack services and involve long commuting times; all of which have negative impacts on health (for example increasing sedentary behaviour). Although high density neighbourhoods can address many of these issues, they also have their own problems: noise and air pollution, traffic congestion, fear of crime and a deficit of green open space. In short, there is no right or wrong answer, since different aspects of health and well-being are accommodated more easily by high and low density urban arrangements.

Biodiversity conservation

As cities expand into the surrounding peri-urban landscape, swathes of native vegetation can been lost. Green open spaces such as parks, reserves, and riparian corridors and gardens are key to promoting biodiversity within cities. Promoting these spaces in urban planning may lead to a larger urban footprint and thus have both positive and negative impacts on biodiversity.

Energy efficiency

Cities with low density housing and high levels of car dependency are criticised for being energy intensive. Arguments are therefore often made for cities to be as compact as possible.

Maximising public transport connectivity and minimising commuting time are important. However, the energy consumed by a city is far more complex than whether it is characterised by high or low density urban form.

The design of suburbs, efficiency of building stocks, use of appliances and technologies, and how the daily lives of citizens are organised also play a significant role. Therefore, increasing density alone does not guarantee improved energy efficiency.

Then there is this thought provoking article The future of rural enterprises in the global food chain of which as few snapshots appear below.

The state of agricultural business in Australia

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that there are around 137,447 agricultural businesses operating across Australia. Over the past decade their numbers have decreased by about 3.5% and there has been a decline of around 10% during the same period in the amount of arable land used for farming. For example, in 2001 Australia had some 456 million hectares of land committed to farming, but by 2011 this had fallen to 410 million hectares.

Despite these falls in the number of farms and the amount of land used for farming, the overall productivity of Australia’s farmers has increased substantially. The amount of land used for crops has grown by 31% despite the reduction in overall land used, and the gross value added from agriculture has risen by about 34% since 2001. These trends can be illustrated in the following graph.

Trends in Australian agricultural businesses ABS 2012

This suggests a trend in which the number of farms operating across Australia has shrunk but those that remain have become more productive. These trends are likely to continue well into the future, but there are some serious challenges facing the nation’s farmers that deserve greater attention from our political leaders.

It was part of the discussions that took place on 10 April at a “Food 2050” symposium held in Perth by the UWA Institute of Agriculture. This drew together a cross-section of experts in a range of fields who examined the challenges facing farming communities and the longer term security of our food production system. My task was to address the issue of the state of rural enterprises and this article is based on the speech that I gave there.

The “farm problem”

The problem is caused by the interplay between rising agricultural productivity and the inelastic nature of food demand.

This has led to continual decreases in real farm prices and decreasing returns to farmers. Increasing competition in the food market has meant that any efficiency gains made by producers within their farm businesses are actually captured more by the consumer than the producer.

To counter this trend farm enterprises have sought to expand their area of production, develop new or additional crops or pastures, or grow large via the amalgamation of farms. This has led to the “get big or get out” mindset that has occurred across many of our rural areas in past decades.

However, many farmers lack the financial capacity or the opportunity to expand their business operations. This will result in a few much larger farms and the smaller farms that still exist will generate only minimal income.

Current state of the global food system

To understand the forces that are impacting on our rural enterprises it is important to take a look at the current state of the global food system. Despite farmers experiencing difficulties with farm gate prices the actual price of food rose significantly over recent years. The diagram below shows the Food Price Index of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which illustrates the trend.

Food Price Index UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (2013)

Another problem is the productivity within agriculture at a global level. Many rural producers around the world are undercapitalised and lack the land or technology to significantly enhance their efficiencies. The food to people ratio of productivity is estimated to need to rise by 70% over the next 40 years if food production is to match supply.

However, there is a lot of wastage. For example, the UN FAO estimates that as much as 1.3 billion tons of food is lost between the field and the table each year due to poor logistics management and storage.

Maintaining sustainability of the food system

There are a number of forces likely to shape the global demand and supply of food over the next 40 years. The first of the factors driving demand is the rising population levels around the world.

By 2050 the world’s population (currently just below 7 billion) will rise to over 9 billion people. China will be expected to see its population peak around 2030, but India’s population will keep growing and the population of Africa is expected to double. For countries across Europe and for Japan the outlook is for population decline.

The rise in population will not only see a demand for more food, but there will be a growing demand for more luxury foods such as meat and dairy, and for foods to be supplied out of season via global supply chains.

The growing population will increasingly live in major cities and there will be a growth in supermarket and fast food retailing operations. In short, people will be wealthier and they will want more processed food, and exotic foods with a change in diets from primarily vegetarian to more meat and protein foods.

The ability for rural producers to meet this rising demand will depend on a range of factors of which one of the most important is the ability of farmers to keep increasing crop yields. Over the past 50 years there has been a dramatic increase in crop yields; however the rate of such increases has slowed each decade.

Our farmers’ capacity to produce more food by 2050 is likely to be dependent on R&D that can result in breakthroughs in technologies and farming practice. This will require the adoption of new animal breeding and husbandry techniques plus new varieties of crops.

Working against this rise in primary production is the impact of climate change and concerns over food safety and ethics. For example, climate change is already impacting on weather patterns generating floods or drought and while scientists continue to debate the nature of this impact, there are already signs of climate change negatively affecting already fragile river systems and associated fish stocks.

In the oceans the supply of fish is also under pressure. There has been a growth in the past 50 years in the world’s fishing fleets and over the past 40 years this fleet has increased sixfold. However, most of the world’s fish stocks are now harvested to full capacity or over exploited and fish harvests are either static or declining.

In many regions there is a decline in soil productivity and the clearing of new farmland is fraught with environmental concerns due to the impact this has on carbon emissions. For example, it is estimated that on average the clearing of land for farming leads to net CO² emissions that are 6 times greater than those generated by other forms of land use.

Overcoming the climate change sceptics

Yet many primary producers are resistant to the challenges of climate change. In a study of Australia’s Farming Future the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, surveyed 1,000 farmers in relation to their attitudes towards climate change. They also surveyed 1,000 people from urban areas.

While 58% of the urban population believed climate change was real and caused by human activity, only 26% of primary producers held this view. As illustrated in the following diagram these farmer groups were segmented into different types of sceptic. Some were sceptical but had been hit by drought and therefore were prepared to start taking action. Others were sceptical and had not yet felt any environmental impacts so they felt no need to take action.

Primary producer segments in relation to climate change Donelley, Mercer, Dickson and Wu (2009)

The ‘strugglers’ were not only sceptical but had no resources to apply to any remedial action. Even those who accepted climate change science were of the view that government assistance was required to allow them to take action.

These attitudes amongst rural producers are important as they will determine how readily many farmers adopt more sustainable farming practices, reduce new land clearing and introduce programs such as enhanced biodiversity of cropping, interlocking crop cycles, dense polycultures, biochar and carbon management.

Consumer Confidence

Feeding into this mix will be market based pressures over food safety and the ethical treatment of animals. Consumers are increasingly concerned over use of genetic modification in foods and the safety of foods. The complex nature of food supply chains makes it more likely that accidents will occur.

They also result in government regulators and major food retailing groups imposing more stringent food safety codes of practice. These factors impact on rural producers by forcing up the cost of food production and supply.

Supply chain funnel in the agrifood sector

One of the problems facing agricultural producers is the “supply chain funnel” that has emerged in the agrifood sector. As shown in the diagram below there is a “choke point” in the area of buying desks that are increasingly no longer in farmer or government control.

Supply chain funnel in the Agrifood sector Gereffi and Lee (2012)

The diagram comes from a study by Gary Gereffi and Joonkoo Lee from Duke University in a paper published in 2012 in the Journal of Supply Chain Management on the state of global supply chains. The model is from the European Union (EU), but it shows a trend that is found increasingly around the world.

The power of global buyers has also been enhanced by the concentration of ownership into fewer large retailing businesses. These firms and large global buyers now dictate quality and the timing and price of food from producers.

Major retailers and buyers will demand more quality and stricter controls over food safety issues. Some will work with small groups of selected, often large scale producers, to supply produce at pre-determined levels of quality, price and delivery times. Many smaller farmers will not meet the necessary standards.

Where to from here?

So in conclusion there are at least four major trends that are likely to impact on rural enterprises in the food sector over the next 40 years:

The first of these will be the mounting pressure on primary producers over food safety and also the need to supply more diverse, wholesome and “authentic” food. This will require producers to innovate and find ways to market their products differently to reflect value adding.

The second major impact with be that of climate change. In order to deal with a changing and uncertain climate there will be a need for more biodiversity of cropping and animal husbandry to avoid mono cultures that are less resilient to climatic change. This may see the emergence of regional brands with shorter food supply chains to local markets focusing on healthy, wholesome foods.

The third trend relates to the need for rural communities to collaborate for their own self-interest. There is the need to enhance their bargaining power against the concentration of increasingly global buying and distribution organisations. Such supply chain structures leave the farmer with a “price taker” role regardless of their attempts to enhance farm level productivity.

A final trend is the need for enhanced innovation in farming and land use practices as well as waste disposal methods. Farmers will need to move to more flexible land use, adaptive cropping methods and carbon capture and management processes. This will be assisted by use of information management tools to aid in farm business modelling and the monitoring of markets.

In summary the pattern that emerges is one of a globally competitive market with a highly concentrated buyer and retailing channels. Producers will need to get larger, find niches or cooperate. Future sustainability and productivity in the face of climate change, water scarcity and food safety concerns will pose significant challenges.

Perhaps this is part of the solution


Links to The Conversation articles



Revolutionising the Urban Farm


Wool Young Farming Champions announced

A journalist, a PhD student, a budding auctioneer and a qualified wool classer.

The latest crop of talented Art4Agriculture Wool Young Farming Champions (YFC) prove variety is the key to engaging the next generation.

Sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation, these young people are a living proof that there is nothing boring or conventional about the future of their industry.

Former television news journalist, Victorian-born Bessie Blore has been farming in far west NSW with her husband for two years. Approaching agriculture with fresh eyes, she admits to learning on the run.


Her number one lesson?

“There is really no such thing as a stupid question or action,” she said.
“That’s the only way you can learn about something you know nothing about. Ask, ask, ask. And give a big cheeky grin when you make a mistake, say sorry, and move on.”

“There is room for fresh blood in our farming future, and there are new, inspiring, exciting stories to be started from today,” Bessie said.

A thirst for learning and a passion for sheep took city-girl Jo Newton to Armidale in NSW to study agriculture.

Jo Newton

Photo Matt Cawood

Now studying a PHD focusing on the environmental and genetic factors influencing early reproductive performance in sheep, Jo proves that studying agriculture can lead to a world of opportunities and she shares her story at any opportunity.

“As important a job as farming is, there are many different jobs in our sector,” she said. “That’s something many people don’t fully understand.”

“I am proud of the agricultural sector and my small role in it and am happy to share my story with as many of city friends as I can.”

Rounding out this year’s YFC’s are Cassie Baile, a fifth generation sheep farmer from Bendemeer in the New England region of NSW and Adele Offley from Crookwell in NSW.

Twenty-two-year-old, Cassie now lives and works in Sydney, employed by Elders as a wool technical support officer at Yennora Wool Selling centre.

Cassie Baille

Qualified Wool Classer Adele has a lifelong passion for wool stemming from the fascination of watching the sheep being shorn and the wool sorted in the shearing shed growing up on the family farm.

Dr Jane Littlejohn, Head of On-Farm RD&E at Australian Wool Innovation agreed that the wool industry is in good hands.

“AWI is proud of the achievements of the younger generation and believe that their stories will inspire other young people about the wool industry and its opportunities,” she said.

“The industry needs young advocates who are passionate and can relate to students. AWI is delighted to be involved again in the Young Farming Champion program for 2013.”

Young Farming Champions will start visiting the 42 schools participating in the 2013 “Archibull Prize” in coming days.

Team Wool

The 2013 Wool Young Farming Champions caught up with Wool YFC 2011 Melissa Henry at the recent workshop at NSW Farmers

Want to connect with our Wool Young Farming Champions

Bessie Blogs at http://journobessatburragan.blogspot.com.au/

Melissa Blogs at http://baalissa.wordpress.com/


Adele @AdeleOffley

Jo @JoNewton89

Bessie @BloreBess

Melissa @baalissa

You feed me and I thank you.

There is that old saying that says ‘Nobody on their death bed wished they had made more money’ and everyone would be very happy for somewhere on their gravestone to say ‘Made a Difference’

Each day I find there are more and more young people in agriculture who want to scream from the highest hill that they are proud of being part of the team and that feeds and clothes us

I recently received this email from a very committed young lady who wanted to enrol her city school in the Archibull Prize so they could use their art to share the story about the important role our farmers play

My name is Emma Williams, and I am in my final year at Loreto Kirrbilli.

Emma taking in the sun and scenery at every opportunity

Emma Williams a city girl who values the country and wants to tell its story

As a student living in the city during the term and country during the holidays I see both ‘values’ of my generation.

Essentially, before I leave Loreto (very soon) I would like to set the foundations, or even start a program that allowed girls from the city, who have little opportunity to experience firsthand and understand the value of our farmers that can only come from providing a direct connection between producers and consumers.

Mr Kleeman

Emma received 3rd place in the state wide Brock Rowe Senior Geography Competition for her project ‘To investigate the effects of mining and coal seam gas extraction on Strategic Agricultural Land essential for food production and injurious effects on rural towns and communities in the Liverpool Plains’

This is something I am very passionate about. I am a huge fan of your ‘Archibull’ program – but acknowledge that this year is well and truly underway – however, I feel I must act now if I want to start the journey and build this connection and understanding at Loreto, as I am only one of a few girls with a passion for the agriculture industry.

So basically, I am asking if you had an option, to partake in a ‘mini’ or ‘condensed’ or ‘revised’ Archibull program specifically for Loreto – I completely acknowledge that your resources and time are taken up with the current program that advises numerous schools and I would be willing to find a mentor/industry role model to participate –

I believe the idea of combining the ‘art’ and ‘agriculture’ and the idea of the ‘bull’ is a perfect fit for our extremely creative school.

Again, I completely appreciate your current program is underway and would appreciate if nothing else, your opinion or idea on how to create greater knowledge and mutual understanding and instil more respect in the consumer/ producer relationship.  Emma Williams

As coincidence would have it Emma was introduced to Art4Agriculture and the Archibull Prize after having been sent the link to Young Farming Champion Richie Quigley’s video ‘I grow cotton and you wear it’. Emma being the proactive young lady that she is contacted Richie via the Quigley Farms Facebook page to get his advice on university pathways into agriculture

In her words

‘It is absolutely beyond my wildest dreams to communicate with young farmers (of their nature) and have been so fortunate to be in brief contact with Richie Quigley – not having met him, but being mentored towards the most appropriate university degree for me next year – his input has been invaluable.’

As it turned out the teachers and the students at Loreto where very open to the idea of a ‘late start’ to the Archibull Prize program but in the end felt they could not do it justice in such a short space of time but they have put their names down for next year.

Emma has also built up a huge network of Agvocates on social media and sent congratulatory emails and tweets to many of the people she is seeing who are making a difference to the way people see farmers in Australia and inspiring her to do the same. So I asked Emma to share with me why as a ‘city’ girl she felt this way

Not surprisingly just like another Young Farming Champion Bronwyn Roberts, who is also inspiring next gen, Emma was inspired by her grandfather

This is Emma’s story ………………….

I have an awesome relationship with my grandparents who live on the family property in Tamworth, and I hope to be the 5th generation to farm there. My grandfather is my biggest influence.

Emma Williams and Eric Crowe

Emma with her grandfather Eric Rowe

Every holiday, with my mum and sister we travel to Tamworth, to immerse ourselves for a few weeks in the way of life I like to call ‘home’.

Emma checking the cattle at Sunset

Emma checking the cattle at sunset

To cut a long story short, my grandfather’s prominence in the cattle and stock and station industry, contacts I have made and lifestyle I have for so long desired but only observed have led me to the Agriculture career path I am hoping to embark on next year.

Never being allowed to do hard labour because I am the 'girl'

Never being allowed to do hard labour because I am the ‘girl’

This admittedly hasn’t been easy, and I still choose it ironically with so much desire yet so much doubt.

Most significantly the deterioration of my grandfather’s mental health is underpinning my decision . Still so so so alert, and with a work ethic like no other, his potential in the industry is still exponential, yet there seem so many barriers and red and green tape for him to surmount it has finally beaten him to the ground.

I now see a man, who has no faith in the potential of Agriculture in Australia, and compares the good ‘old days’ to the declining ‘current years’. This no doubt, is incidental, and with my ability to travel up more often next year, and put some youthful input into the business I hope I will be able to breathe some life back into this once proud man.

Perhaps the reality of the past few years in the industry Australia wide has created my biggest doubt. Living in the city where so few value their farmers and would have no idea where the clothes on their back came from and think that life lessons come in the form of wealth makes it difficult to stay passionate.

The demise of the Live Export industry, effects of the drought, and Government notion ‘out of sight out of mind’ have really affected me, not to mention my school work, no time for it. The more I read the more I cannot understand the lack of empathy and massive disconnect between the people who produce the food and the people who enjoy it

I have tried to educate myself on the issues, so that I can share the realities of what I have learnt with others, but to be honest they have no concept that anything beyond the city surrounds impacts on them, and if $1 milk means less expensive, then stuff the farmers.

It really is hard to comprehend the misinformation, and scare tactics that are being fed to cities like Sydney. I am in constant despair at the comments I hear every day and even more concerning is the complete lack of communication on the nightly news about the issues that really impact of on this great country.

Excitingly I am finding through social media networks people are starting to listen, and although people may think their influence is minor, it is those rural advocates’ Facebook pages, blogs, tweets, emails and comments that have opened my eyes to the great opportunity a life in agriculture can offer me. My desire is stronger than ever, to right these wrongs and become involved in an industry that deserves acknowledgment.

I am more than ready to start laying the foundations to the rest of my life, and can’t wait to be an influence on the younger generations, and follow in the footsteps of those forging a new and bright future for young people in agriculture …………

One can never overestimate the power of feedback like this from Emma.  Our Young Farming Champions have a closed Facebook page on which they share the highlights of their YFC journey and they all receive similar feedback to that Emma gave Richie.

Being a part of a successful project team is a very powerful way of encouraging young people and I have watched them all develop invaluable confidence and leadership skills and take other roles of responsibility within their own and the wider community.

On behalf of of the Young Farming Champions and rural agvocates everywhere I thank you Emma for sharing your story

Dear Grandad

Don’t you just love it when industry celebrates young rising stars in agriculture  

Recently Target 100 Beef Young Farming Champion Bronwyn Roberts had the honour of  being invited to be the keynote speaker at the prestigious Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program and Australian Beef Industry Foundation Awards Dinner in June.

We at Art4Agriculuture are very proud of Bron who has committed her life to the red meat industry, as a farmer, land management officer and as an advocate for the sector.

Bron’s presentation was inspired by her Art4Agriculture blog ‘Shaped by yesterday and passionate about today’ which is a tribute to the impact her grandfather has had on her future

Bron has many talents it seems and poetry just happens to be one of them

To quell her nerves on the plane Bron penned this superb poem to her grandfather

This is my favourite verse

Dear Grandad

It’s been 20 years since you’ve been gone, Oh how the time’s flown by

So much has changed, so much is new, and there is so much to try

I wonder what you would think of me, youngest daughter of your youngest daughter

And if you’d want me in this field, following the path laid before her

I don’t tend garden, I don’t keep house, or take lunch to the men

I muster cattle, I build yards, make business decision and then….

I go to work to do what I love and help others to farm too

For this industry means as much to me as it did to you

So I’m here because of yesterday, shaped by those who came before me

But I’m passionate about today, and the tomorrow I can see

It’s been 20 years since you’ve been gone but I will not be sad

For I’m picking up where you left off

My dear Grandad

What’s yours?


Dear Grandad

It’s been so long since you’ve been gone; you’ve never seen our place

So much has changed, so much is new; old ways have been replaced

We use our agent to buy and sell, we rarely see a sale

We buy cattle over the internet, from photos on email

We work our cattle in steel yards, Mum’s iPad on her lap,

loaded with stock numbers, drench doses and our farm map

We weigh every animal and can predict the time of sale

Not afraid to change program halfway through or trading off the tail

No walk in dams, no traps yards, no horses and no workers

A trip to town and back again is not a rare occurrence

Having all our steers in one mob, all sizes big and small

And moving them from paddock to paddock so each year we spell them all

Dear Grandad

So much has changed since you’ve been gone; the world is not the same

We’re now perceived as vandals if we even pick up a chain

No more developing country or treating regrowth without permit

Yet if there’s coal under our farm they’ll turn it into a pit

There’s hidden cameras, propaganda and animal rights watching us

Our city cousins are demanding more but we’ve lost consumer trust

From your time as a young lad droving horses down Pitt Street

Jump to now and people think they don’t consume if they don’t eat meat

You proudly trained your horses for the men off fighting war

You sent them over on a boat, no protestors on the shore

Yet we send ships of animals to people who have less

And we are labelled murderers for trying to do our best

Dear Grandad

It’s been 20 years since you’ve been gone, Oh how the time’s flown by

So much has changed, so much is new, and there is so much to try

I wonder what you would think of me, youngest daughter of your youngest daughter

And if you’d want me in this field, following the path laid before her

I don’t tend garden, I don’t keep house, or take lunch to the men

I muster cattle, I build yards, make business decision and then….

I go to work to do what I love and help others to farm too

For this industry means as much to me as it did to you

So I’m here because of yesterday, shaped by those who came before me

But I’m passionate about today, and the tomorrow I can see

It’s been 20 years since you’ve been gone but I will not be sad

For I’m picking up where you left off

My dear Grandad


Bronwyn (Bron) Roberts – June 2013

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