Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert is keeping the agricultural dream alive

Today I had the opportunity to attend the NSW Farmers Annual Conference at the iconic landmark that is Luna Park in North Sydney

NSW Young Farmer Chair and Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert had the opportunity to follow the keynote address from Hon Niall Blair MLC Minister for Primary Industries with this very inspiring speech. Josh Gilbert Niall Blair Martin Murray Jo Newton

Young Farming Champions Josh Gilbert,  Martin Murray and Jo Newton with Hon Niall Blair MLC

I feel the Land.

I embrace its presence.

And I thrive at the joy in farming it.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and thank you for the opportunity to address you on behalf of our young farmers. I would like to further acknowledge that we meet on Aboriginal land today and pay my respects to the Elders both past and present.

I stand before you today, acutely aware that my ancestors farmed the same land my family farm today, over 40,000 years ago.

I am filled with pride knowing that I’m the fourth generation to breed Braford cattle and that I can look over our herd with my Grandfather and Dad today and admire the changes and improvements we have made to the breed made over the last 50 years.

And it burns deep inside of me, every time I see rejuvenation of the landscape, every time I see that weary farmer smile at the birth of a new born calf and every time I see the next generation plan their career and future in agriculture.

I want to take you back to the time that you decided to start farming, the time when you purchased your farm, bought those first few head of livestock or planted that first crop. I want you to think about how you felt and what you were thinking of… What convinced you to take that plunge?

While I know at some stage the financials and business opportunities would have weighed heavily on your mind, I want to focus on the more romantic, practical reality here. There was that moment you decided that maybe you could start a family, settle down, and raise your children, perhaps in a similar environment that you were raised… There was a moment you decided that agriculture was not just about you or money- that it was a part of a bigger picture.

It is this dream that drives us to want to be the best farmers we possibly can – that means we borrow money to feed stock in the hard times, take the gamble on an extra property or put in that last cent just to get started.

Every day, we look over the farm and envisage utopia. From watching your daughter learn to ride a horse, your son crack a stockwhip or a wedding under the gum tree on the top of the hill- each day our drive reflects a dream for a better future, not the disruptive past.

Though too often we shy away from these foundations of what we do and why do it, instead adopting a pressured view alike stereotypical corporate business acumen- making a lot of money amidst bad decisions. So today, I want to explore this notion with you further- Australian Agriculture… It’s not about now and it’s not about me.

This is depicted seamlessly in what NSW Farmers support within our young farmers’ cohort-

  • Providing 5 scholarships again this year to 5 amazing youth who will ensure the growth of our regional areas
  • Sponsoring 2 incredible ladies in the Art4Agriculture project to go into schools as part of the Archibull Prize and inspire children with their stories
  • Creating 4 branches around the State to guarantee that young people in Sydney and within regional NSW have their voices heard
  • Individual branches sponsoring committed youth to travel here for 3 days to be engaged at Annual Conference.

Each day, our association touches the lives of young farmers and rural youth, and encourages them to create their utopia, just as we have done before them.

But the challenge for creating these dreams extends further than our young farmer group.

The phrase “we need visionaries, not profiteers” can extend no further that the current challenge upon the Liverpool Plain’s, where Fiona and the Liverpool Plain’s Youth depict our love for the land and rally for the opportunity to farm- to discover their potential for the future. Just as our city counterparts, our kids should have the opportunity to dream of a future in the same area and even the chance to farm the same land as their family have in the past. We all deserve that chance.

To keep the agricultural dream alive and to ensure that in the next 40,000 years our children can share the same opportunities have, we must work as one. We can’t let the little things get us down, we can’t challenge each other in open forums and we can’t afford not to support one another. Whether you belong in designer suits or dusty boots, if you share the dream of a better tomorrow- you are not alone.

Unlike the current media attention, our journey is in fact not about who wins or will make the most money- rather an adventure to ensure that our peers will always get the same opportunities, whether they live on the sandy beaches or on the red dust plains. This venture is not about me, it is not about you – it is about ensuring that young farmers of the future can have the opportunity to farm, if that is their desire.

Within young farmers- we are building this desire and passion to farm, providing sessions on young farmer start-up methods as we know the cost to enter the industry is high

This year we toured the south of the State with our Victorian colleagues to grasp an appreciation of where we need our businesses to go

We held a Masterchef dinner on the river in Hay to ensure our colleagues have an outreach when experiencing mental illness.

Excitingly the events we hosting, the policy we are debating and the services we are providing, we have seen over a 30% increase in membership this financial year.

At the core of this rapid turnaround is my team.

I am thankful many of them have joined me here today at Annual Conference and extend my sincere thanks to the district councils and commodity groups who have sponsored them, along with head office for their support and assistance. I would further like to congratulate Derek on his recent appointment and wish Fiona all the best wishes for the future- I know you have been a fantastic inspiration and role model for the youth in NSW.

I want to take you back to the time that you decided to start farming, the time when you purchased your farm, bought those first few head of livestock or planted that first crop. I want you to think about how you felt and what you were thinking of… What convinced you to take that plunge?

We feel the land.

We acknowledge its presence.

Thank you Josh you did the youth of Australia proud

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