Taking the leap into agriculture
Having recently finished studying and being surrounded by young people trying to kickstart their career in agriculture, Cox Inall’s Jacqui Grellman discusses some of the benefits and barriers to starting out in the industry.
As the agriculture sector grows and faces the challenge of feeding a rapidly expanding global population, and amid increasing technical complexity, the composition of jobs and available career paths are also growing.
A job in the Australian agriculture industry does not just mean farming, but can be anything that supports the production of food and fibre and helps get products to market. This can include a vast array of occupations from rural financing, retail/merchandising, graphic designing produce packaging or engineering new robotic technologies for cropping.
I have recently started my career in the agriculture industry working for Cox Inall Communications and am lucky enough to work with a dynamic range of clients across horticulture, grains and corporate agriculture.
There’s no doubt the industry is extremely diverse and full of employment opportunity, especially in the corporate sector, yet for those with ambitions of running a farm business, it’s a little more difficult.
In July 2017 the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) conducted a Young Farmers survey of 18-35-year old farmers in NSW who currently have a farming business or aspire to start a farming business in the next 12 months.
DPI found that 73 per cent of young people are experiencing barriers entering into the business of agriculture and 48 per cent feel they don’t have the opportunities to connect with other farmers or networks.
Providing a valuable snapshot, the survey delves into some of the biggest barriers to entry, one of the greatest being the capital required to buy land which makes the farming dream near on impossible for many.
Last week a roundtable of young farming representatives from Cudal, Moree, Tamworth and Armidale gathered at Parliament house to discuss exactly what was standing in their way of entering the industry – the number one issue was land ownership and finances for young people.
You may have a passion for farming, yet taking this path is difficult without the ability to inherit the family farm or without the equity needed to put down a 40 per cent bank deposit on a farm, not to mention the need then to make the farm profitable.
The biggest question stemming from the roundtable was how to effectively connect young people and willing landowners beyond word of mouth and networking.
In both cases, there is a common theme coming from young people who are asking for better networking and connection within the industry. Survey responses mentioned the difficulty in connecting unless you have previous relationships in the farming industry and the lack of information sharing amongst regional communities.
Here at Cox Inall, we value communication, particularly within our own network of remote employees and I believe effective communication platforms are key for young people starting out in the sector.
It is ensuring crucial information is shared between outgoing farmers and incoming farmers so young people can build the right relationships and find the positive information they need, creating inspiration and reaffirming why they should get into agriculture.
Getting out there and chatting to farmers and growers is something Cox Inall does day to day. By promoting networking avenues and guiding young farmers in the direction of established information sources or contacts in our daily conversations, communications professionals can help streamline knowledge and advice to better assist young people develop their agricultural, business and financial skills.
Communications can also assist young farmers in understanding their options, whether this is directing them to a financial literacy workshops or putting them in contact with a willing landowner to discuss profit share, promoting networking is the first step to overcoming capital barriers to entry.
Agriculture is on the brink of major growth and there are abundant career opportunities for young people starting out in the sector.
By adopting a collaborative approach within farming communities and with the help of modern communication tools and communicational professionals like the team here at Cox Inall, young farmers can work towards building a structured, organised and centralised information system. This way we can promote fresh thinking and new ideas, allowing opportunities to be circulated, helping other young people get their foot in the door.