Today’s guest blog post comes from Josh Gilbert who is combining a degree in law with a role on the NSW Young Farmers Council to advocate for young farmers. Josh is a great believer in the ethos of Eric Thomas.
‘You are the executive director and screenwriter of your life…. Never underestimate the importance of the beginning. The beginning has the seeds of everything else to come.”
This is Josh’s story ………
Hi, my name is Josh Gilbert. I’ve just completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Newcastle and now in my final year of my Law degree. I currently have a Finance Cadetship at the ABC, but my dream is to provide high quality legal advice to those living in the country, while building a large scale agricultural corporation.
My blog today shares with you my agricultural journey thus far and gives insights into my hopes for the future.
My love of agriculture started on my Great Grandparent’s farms in the Mid North Coast of NSW. My family have always been farming, with my Dad’s side producing beef cattle and my Mum’s all being dairy farmers.
Me with my dad on my grandfather’s tractor
I grew up in the wheat and sheep belt of the Northern Canberra Tablelands- in a small town called Boorowa. The town boasts a rich pastoral and Irish heritage, primarily emphasised by the Running of the Sheep every year. It is in this community that I learnt of the importance of local farms and the impact that farming families had on a small community.
My family moved back up to the coast in 2000 and a few years later purchased a part of my Grandfather’s dairy farm and started a Braford cattle stud which we called Riverside Park Brafords.
My first Brahman cattle purchase
We are now third and fourth generation Braford breeders, originally chosen by my Great Grandfather due to their natural resistance to ticks and their tolerance to droughts.
One of our newest calves- Riverside Park Marvelous
Whilst I originally chose a career in law since we established our cattle stud and working on the farm, my enthusiasm for the agriculture industry has been re-ignited. This passion has prompted me to join the NSW Farmers- Young Farmers Council and seen me attend the 2013 Woolworths Agriculture Business Scholarship in Sydney.
Touring the meat aisle at the 2013 Woolworths Agriculture Business Scholarship program
Inspired by cattle pioneers James Tyson and Sir Sidney Kidman and my interest in business and commerce, I have big aspirations to create one of Australia’s largest, privatively owned, mixed enterprise, farming companies. I have since started working towards this dream, attending cattle courses, writing farm profitability formulas and conducting further research into the field.
However, my interest in agriculture stems beyond my personal endeavours- with further concerns around farmer mental health issues, the need for assistance to encourage young farmers and the vital role of education for viable farming futures. I believe Government policy and funding is strongly needed in these areas, with agricultural industry support and guidance to help implement suitable measures.
Australian agriculture, especially the beef industry, is supported by strong historic foundations. I believe the long term viability of beef cattle production now relies on farmers getting a fair return for their efforts, community support, adaptation and adoption of environmentally sound farming methods, while ensuring animal care standards are delivered at the highest level.
“You got an opportunity to make a dream become a reality – and when you do, you just got to take advantage of it.” – Eric Thomas
I believe the future of the agriculture sector rests in our hands and it is up to us to ensure we build capacity to continually improve the productivity, profitability and competitiveness of Australian agriculture.
There are many difficulties facing farmer’s everyday, namely; ageing and fewer farmers, difficulties in the retention of younger generations, mental health issues, problems ensuring profitability, concerns obtaining finance and reduced consumer knowledge of where their food comes from combined with increased consumer expectations about how their food is produced. While there are many challenges facing the agriculture sector at large, I believe there are many opportunities.
To take advantage of these opportunities, it is pivotal that the agriculture sector has a unified voice and a cohesive, united brand that we are all proud of. That farmers share their enthusiasm and passion for what they do and why they do it with not only the rest of Australia, but also the World. It is equally important that farmers have the opportunity to improve their business skills and have access to mental health services, while also drawing upon the ability to develop quality relationships along the food chain with our urban communities.
Young people have the opportunity to gain a broad education that allows us to work off farm to increase our knowledge of successful business practices and gain an appreciation for urban life. This also provides us with a chance to discover the ways urban and rural can work together to ensure the agriculture sector prospers.
Our government will also have a strong role to play. Together, farmers and government must develop policies that will assist young people to access the capital that’s required to get into farming and provide additional financial education to ensure realistic business accounting. Currently, the costs of farmland and infrastructure are a huge barrier to many younger farmers, with government intervention the most applicable way to help change this situation.
Further policy is also needed to help encourage young people to become involved in agriculture and help the sector realise its potential. Additionally, we also need to continue to develop higher-level skills and training for the sector, while promoting agriculture as a positive, diverse and rewarding career path.
Greater skills and knowledge in areas such as finance, marketing and legal, is the key to helping farmers think actively and ask questions to ensure our personal businesses and the wider industry grows. I believe our entire future livelihoods rest primarily on the engagement, recruitment and retention of these people.
We have a real chance to make these dreams a reality. We have the opportunity to make the agricultural profession as reputable and important to others as it once was. It won’t be easy, but the rewards will be great.
I look forward to taking an active role and working with farmers and our communities to realise this.
Well said Josh and I am sure you will agree with me that Josh is a young man prepared to do the hard yards to achieve his big dreams.
There is nothing wrong with dreaming big dreams, just know that all roads that lead to success have to pass through Hardwork Boulevard at some point. Eric Thomas
You can read Josh’s Target 100 profile here