Young farmers changing the way farmers are perceived

I recently attended an event where this statement was made

Agriculture doesn’t change the world, Agriculture prevents it changing

Visit here for some comment on this

Well I can assure you there is a new generation of farmers who are turning the way agriculture thinks, talks and acts on its head and they leading the change that agriculture must have

A great example of this is  Young Farmer of the Year and Young Farming Champion Anika Molesworth who was unable to attend the Farmer of the Year awards ceremony in Australia this week as she was presenting at the INTO conference in Cambridge in England

Anika Molesworth

Anika reports from Cambridge

“I am having an extremely exciting month! It was a thrill to win the Young Farmer of the Year award. Although I couldn’t attend the ceremony in Sydney, I was lucky enough to have my own awards night here- in a 17th century grain store on a fantastic country estate in Cambridge where they preserve heritage lines of sheep and cattle.

Speeches were made about the award with the 300 INTO delegates in attendance.
Climate change, agriculture and land use have been a real theme of this conference, and it’s been great to meet people from all over the world to hear their stories and feel the momentum growing in this discussion”

Wow are young farmers like Anika changing the way farmers are being perceived in the world – not only are our farmers on the front foot of climate change action and adaptation and mitigation strategies  we are now helping drive the conversations on the legacy our generation leaves for the future

Seed to Store – creating a buzz around grains

Young Farming Champion Dan Fox certainly got a great opportunity this week to combine his two first loves – teaching and food production (apologies to his girlfriend)

Dan is a very bright young man who completed HSC physics and maths in Year 10. As I always struggled with physics and maths I am just awestruck that some people can do this

When Dan completed his HSC he went off to Uni to become a teacher. After completing his degree he found his farming roots calling him back to the farm where is waking up every day committed to growing the best grain for your weetbix, the barley for your beer and the canola oil for your salad and helping turn spring into that amazing colour carpet splendour that is canola in flower.

Daniel ox  (3)

Dan Fox in the canola

At the invitation of the Grains Research and Development Corporation which funds Dan to be a Young Farming Champion Dan had a whirlwind trip to South Australia to help promote the Seed to Store Video Competition

As part of the team who did the ‘Seed to Store – Story of Australian Grain’ schools presentation sessions today Dan visited Urrbrae Agricultural High School and Oakbank Area School and presented to over 400 secondary school students.

The hour long sessions looked at the Australian grains industry, growing great grains, plant breeding for quality food products and careers in grains / agriculture.

Dan shared his journey with the students, speaking about his career, sustainable farming and opportunities in the grains industry and knowing Dan I am positive the crowds loved him!

IMG_7221

There was lots of activities, quizzes, plant crosses, prizes

IMG_7260

Apparently this young man was asked to  “emasculate” a plant! Priceless!

IMG_7267

Dough stretching competition – learning about gluten and dough quality

IMG_7274

everyone had lots of fun including Dan front and centre here

IMG_7283

You can find out everything you need to know about the competition here

Seed to Store CompetitionCheck Cosi in the video clip here

The opportunities are endless in Agriculture says Laura Phelps

Today’s guest blog comes from Laura Phelps from Australian Pork Limited who says the opportunities for young people in agriculture are everywhere. From international travel, to eye-opening experiences and life-long friendships, Laura thinks agriculture has it all – including a bright and vibrant future.

This is Laura’s story…

clip_image001

Laura in a wheat field in Indonesia

Growing up on a farm outside of Moree, I always assumed that agriculture would form part of my life in some capacity. It was this mindset that I took with me when my family moved south from Moree to the urban fringes of Melbourne. Vast open golden brown paddocks were traded with rolling green pasture and five acre blocks in picturesque towns with the bright lights of the city just up the road. While there was a significant change in lifestyle, football code and climate, my interest in Agriculture has never waned.

My father is a vet and my mother an agricultural scientist – they have always supported my passion for agriculture and the opportunities that it presents. When my school friends were getting ready to attend university in Melbourne, I was packing up my bags to head north to begin a degree in Ag Science at the University of Sydney in 2010, graduating at the end of 2013.

clip_image003

Graduation with my brother, mum and dad

While at university my eyes were opened to the places that agriculture can take you, and in my second year I was lucky enough to travel to Indonesia with Syngenta to work with local university agricultural students, educating farmers about pesticide safety management. In groups we would set out each day to work with local farmer groups, village leaders and farmers to assemble lockable boxes for farmers to store chemicals and to talk about pesticide safety management. This experience was unforgettable and ignited in me the understanding that no matter the cultural or language barriers, agriculture transcends these barriers.

clip_image004

The Australian agriculture students who were a part of the Syngenta program

clip_image006

My village group from the Syngenta program

In my final year of university, before beginning my honours in soil science, I was able to travel to Laos as part of a subject looking at agriculture in developing countries. Keeping to the south of Laos, as a class combined with agricultural students from Laos’s national university, we toured the various agricultural industries of Laos, looking at subsistence farming, community farming projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, and large commercial coffee plantations. Along the way we stayed with locals and in guest houses. The difference in agriculture was astounding and the relationship that farmers have with the land is a completely different mindset to the one that Australian farmers have. I was also struck with the relationship that all people have with agriculture, as the subsistence farming culture is high.

clip_image008

Rice farming in Laos

When I finished university I honestly had no idea about what I wanted to do, or where I wanted agriculture to take me. I had always known that I wanted to be a part of agriculture – but exactly where and doing what had always stumped me. When I saw a policy job with Australian Pork Limited (APL) in Canberra, I jumped on it and was very excited to join the team. Working for APL I have discovered a passion for pigs that I never knew existed. A major part of my job is talking to producers on a daily basis while manning the pig industry’s national traceability phone line. I find this part of my job extremely rewarding and it reminds me constantly who I am working for and why I am there.

Working for the pork industry has cemented in me the value that Australian farmers are passionate, about their animals and environment. It has also struck me how innovative our producers are. I believe that I am lucky to work for a forward thinking organisation, who are constantly seeking the outcomes which have a positive impact on all aspects of the industry. The people I see in every aspect of the pork supply chain are committed to achieving the best outcomes in terms of animal welfare, environmental issues and production. I am extremely proud to work in the pork industry and am excited about its future in Australia.

I believe that there is a bright future for Agriculture in Australia, but we will face some challenges along the way. The growing disconnect and misconceptions between the country and city, climate change and variable rainfall and weather events, and competing pressures for viable farming land are all challenges that we need to face together. With the right work ethic, support and collaborative effort, I believe we are more than capable of building a vibrant future.

Agriculture has taken me to some amazing places and given me some amazing opportunities. From traveling to the terraced mountains of Indonesia, to the rice paddies of Laos, and extensive soil tours of the western plains of NSW. I have been able to compete the Grain Grower’s cropping competition in Temora, intern at the ABC and trail harvest crops in Shepparton. But most importantly I have had fun and made some amazing friendships along the way.

clip_image010

Out delivering pesticide safe boxes in Indonesia

From Dagwood Dogs and Prize Dahlias, Sheep Shearing and cattle judging the local show movement is still at fever pitch in Crookwell

I have spent most of my time at local shows either showing cows or horses.

The upper Lachlan Catchment Landcare group was a great supporter of the 2014 Archibull Prize and Crookwell being part of this region their local show was a great opportunity to celebrate their local Archibull Prize 2014 entries, tell the great stories of our sheep, cattle, wool and dairy farmers and meet the locals

IMG_1393

So I jumped in the car last Saturday to join the wonderful Mary Bonet and the Upper Landcare Group in their tent at the Show

Mary Bonet Upper Lachlan Landcare

 The delightful Mary Bonet

IMG_1382

Seeing these wonderful books at our stand created for the Cattle and Sheep industry by the Kondinin Group was blast from the past by showgoer Scott Boyle who help collate them whilst working at Kondinin in WA 

Having had quite a walk to get in the gate I was thrilled to meet Dr Rod Hoare who is the Chief Ground Steward and has access to this great little golf cart- the perfect vehicle to tour the show sites for this little black duck

IMG_1475

 Chief Ground Steward Rod Hoare enjoyed the traditional dagwood dog whilst touring the showground in this wonderful little buggy

First up was the local sheep shearing competition an iconic part of livestock agriculture in Australia. Competitors are judged by the quality of their shearing as well as the speed of the shear. Visit True Blue Australia to find out more

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I took this little time lapse video of the intermediate class won by the shearer at Stand 2

Next up was the pavilion. The photos share the kaleidoscope of colour of the arts and crafts and vegies, produce, flowers, cakes and everything that says the finest of rural Australian local show culture

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I caught up with some ladies working and supporting rural mental health through the Rural Adversity Mental Health program and we had our picture taken for the local paper.

Then Mary introduced me to local member for Goulburn the Hon. Pru Goward who was very impressed with the Archibull artworks of the local schools

Prue Goward and Lynne Strong

Pru was keen to see the 2014 Champion Archibull Prize Winner “Ni-Cow’ and I was only too happy to show here but we seemed to be in a Tony Abbott black spot

Then we had a little tour of the cattle sheds and the cattle judging

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where we met Ernie Stevenson an early and influential member of the Murray Grey society.

IMG_1446

Back at the tent I met local cattle farmer Ken Wheelwright who is part of the KLR Mastermind Group.

Ken and Lynne

More about Rod, Ernie and Ken in my next post on Clover Hill Dairies Diary

Then it was time to catch up with local Young Farming Champions and former Crookwell Show girls Jasmine Nixon and Adele Offley

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ah the local show so much to see so little time but thanks to Rob and all the wonderful locals I think managed to fit most of it in

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then the two hour drive home in the fog and the rain but it was all worth it

Young Farming Champions go behind the scenes at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

Three of our Young Farming Champions are bursting at the seams with anticipation and the Sydney Royal Easter Show can’t come round fast enough for them this year after being announced as recipients of Rural Achiever Scholarships.

YFC Tim Eyes Dee George and Kylie Schuller

YFC Tim Eyes, Dee George and Kylie Schuller on Day 1 of their Sydney Royal Easter Show 2015  journey  

 The Rural Achievers will participate in a 12-month program that provides a range of networking and professional development opportunities, including an 11 day behind-the-scenes experience at the 2015 Sydney Royal Show, official functions with RAS councillors and Agricultural Societies Council representatives, cocktail reception at Government House, tour of NSW Parliament House and of program sponsor The Land’s head office at North Richmond.

The achievers will also have the opportunity to represent the RAS at Royal shows and events across the country.

One Rural Achiever will also be selected to represent NSW at the 2016 National Rural Ambassador Awards in 2016. You can read all about it in The Land here

 GRDC Grains Young Farming Champion Dee George said

The thing I am most excited about being a Rural Achiever is the networks and people I will get to meet and talking to like-minded people. I’m also looking forward to the Sydney Royal Show experience, which will be unlike any other year I have been to the Show as we will get to do a lot of behind the scenes work.

MLA Cattle and Sheep Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes said

I’m so excited to be able to share my passion for agriculture with like-minded people in the 2015 RAS Rural Achiever program because it’s a great opportunity for us to shine a light on one of Australia’s most prized industries.

I’ve shown cattle at the Sydney Show for eight years, so I am most excited about seeing behind the scenes and talking to the organisers about the logistics of it all and how they pull it off every year. When you show cattle there that’s just two weeks of your life, but for them, they live and breathe the show all year.

And NSW Farmers Young Farming Champion Kylie Schuller is equally excited saying

 I believe the Rural Achiever program is a great opportunity to equip myself with the skills, knowledge and networking opportunities to enhance my ability to engage with the community, in order to promote our rural industries, our produce and people.

I am particularly excited to get an insight into the organisation and co-ordination of the Food Farm as well as the various Gourmet Food experiences that showcase exceptional regional produce.

Special thanks to our YFC ( Dwayne, Jo, Josh and Georgia) who have been through the Rural Achievers experience in the past and  mentored Kylie, Tim and Dee for the interview process.

Lets hope one of them does as well as MLA Young Farming Champion Prue Capp and wins the national title. I am sure they will be well and truly in the running

The Farming Narrative will be told – its up to farmers to decide how it will be remembered

Ar4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert’s presentation to the audience at the NSW Department of Primary industry’s workshop on SOCIAL LICENCE TO OPERATE – CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITY answered the question posed by the FarmOn team in their recent blog ‘So are farmers ready to care’ found here

We at Art4agriculture are thrilled that the organisers of the event acknowledged that youth are passionate and committed to doing whatever it takes to get the narrative right and  chose to give youth a voice through Josh to tell their story

Below is an abbreviated version of Josh’s talk

Connecting with the community – the narrative

My name is Joshua Gilbert. I am, a fourth generation Braford breeder on the Mid North Coast of NSW, an area my ancestors have farmed for over 40,000 years. I commenced my law and accounting studies in 2009, with the aim of working in community practice. In the process of studying, I found myself drawn back to agriculture, and recognised that my skills could complement both my on farm operations as well as my fellow farmers.

Josh Gilbert Braford Breeder

My long-term aim is to go back to my family farm. I know that agriculture has changed, and that it now requires high level skills for farmers to be successful in the tough climate we find ourselves in. At a wider level, my background will also help me support farmers to up skill in financial literacy.

I am also completing a law degree with a view to spending some time in policy, and getting a greater understanding of what can be achieved. I also hope this training will ensure that I can add value to policy discussions, and ensure we get the best outcomes for agriculture. I am also considering a career in politics.

As a young person who is passionate about the cattle industry, watching the impact of the Live Export scrutiny on our fellow farmers in the Northern Beef Industry, I realise the greatest threat to sustainable red meat production in this country, is no longer harsh climatic conditions and volatile prices, but rather, whether or not our customers find our farming and animal welfare practices socially acceptable.

I also acknowledge that negative consumer images and perceptions about modern farming practices are seriously threatening farmers’ social licence to operate. I feel very passionate about ensuring I have the knowledge, skill sets and a team of people-around me, to help turn this around.

I identified the Art4Agriculture Young Farming Champions as a group of young people who felt just like me. A core focus of the program is to provide training in how to effectively engage and build relationships with consumers. Through our learning and interactioins we are finding this is an important foundation to success.

image

Meat and Livestock Australia Young Farming Champions

I  have just completed my first year of training, which involved learning how to tailor my presentation to an audience in a way that resonates and how to engage with school children. What is particularly exciting about the program is we are also able to engage with their teachers and friends to build a cohort of people who become ambassadors for agriculture and are excited about careers in agriculture.

As part of the program we also get to be the young faces of farming and go into schools participating in the Archibull Prize. This gives students the chance to ask questions about farming practices and careers in the agriculture sector. As part of the Archibull Prize the students create artworks, blogs and multimedia animations, which help take agriculture’s story well beyond the classroom

The program teaches us that the aim is not to educate. The aim is to engage and provide opportunities for consumers to have open, honest and transparent conversations. In this way, we are able to convey we care just as much about the environment and animal well-being as they do.

We are in turn able to show them how challenging it is to farm in a world with declining natural resources, and that if we are going to do this successfully, we need to build strong partnerships between agriculture and the community.

We are also given media training with a strong focus on handling the difficult questions. This has been particularly rewarding for me and shown me it’s not as hard as you might think.

I was recently asked to participate in a live radio interview with the ABC about an upcoming presentation I was to give to the NSW Farmers, Wagga District Council. Having completed a few interviews before with very supportive journalists, I knew I had been lucky and that this would not always be the case.

Prior to the event, I prepared my key messages and because of my Young Farming Champions media training, I was able to stay on message no matter how hard the journalist wanted me to focus on the negatives of agriculture.

In the past, I would have fallen into the trap the journalist set for me. However, I had recently attended a Young Farming Champions workshop where, in the safety of a training environment, I was grilled in the art of staying on message and getting the outcomes I wanted from the interview. This was a very rewarding experience and gave me new confidence

Next year I will have the opportunity to hone my skills by going into schools as part of Art4Agriculture’s programs. Once I have graduated to the next level, I will be given the opportunity to attend master classes, where I will learn how to engage with a diverse range of audiences. Art4Agriculture has recently built a relationship with Rotary and Young Farming Champions who have done master classes will now have an opportunity to present to Rotary groups across Sydney.

YFC 2014

If we want to go further we are given training in how to create a TED talk. We are also provided insights into the art of successful marketing and how important it is to take your audience on the journey with you

But there are plenty more people out there, who are just as passionate as me. People who want to be proactive and build relationships with the community, so we can all work together.

Similarly, they need training, mentoring and ongoing support. Too often I see passionate advocates provided with half day media training and then expected to talk to the media and get it right.

We all feel a huge responsibility when we talk on behalf of our sector and the industry we are part of. It is our responsibility to ensure that the people who take this role on are provided the best training and support, that people who are the faces of the corporate world receive.

We also need to acknowledge not everyone is suitable for this, and we need to support and show how people can value-add to advocacy in many different ways at a level that they are comfortable with.

I am using the skills, knowledge and networks I have developed as an MLA Young Farming Champion to help other youth recognise the social networks and relationships that underpin the new community interest in how our food is produced. This is a great opportunity for us to engage with consumers, and have two-way conversations, that will generate a mutual understanding of each other’s challenges and constraints.

I believe that as farmers, we have so much to share and are so passionate about what we do, however we have not historically been good at communicating this. Our narrative is not to change people’s values, but to demonstrate that farmers share these same values. We have immense pride in what we do; we just need to share these narratives beyond our farm gates to instil trust and confidence in our practices.

Rather than bombard consumers with more science, research or information, I believe it is integral that we demonstrate that we share our consumers’ values on topics that they are most concerned about—safe food, global warming, quality nutrition and animal welfare.

As part of the Young Farming Champion team I now have access to mentors and training, to help develop the skills sets, knowledge and confidence to be part of the solution. These mentors have hands-on, coal face experience, and share this openly and passionately- to help all those involved in the program. This experience is critical to our success- a crucial knowledge bank and practical resources that ensure we don’t repeat the same mistakes that we may have made in the past.

We need to be talking about our farms and our values to become just another role  of the farmer. However it is important to note that this process does not involve educating people, but rather being open and transparent when they want to engage with us.

Just like farmers learn how to use  new farming equipment and technologies, we need to build up our farming community to be confident and have skills  to talk about what they do and why they do it.

My Young Farming Champion story has shown what is possible, it has shown what the backbone of the farming narrative needs to be, and that we can build a confident and skilled group of likeminded people, prepared to talk positively about farming.

It is important agriculture comes together, up skill its people and start telling its story to the world. While everyone has a different story, there are common messages and ways to tell our story that will start people talking positively about farming.

The farming narrative will be told

ht to Greg Mills and Ann Burbrook

#YouthinAg Leadership Hub

Art4Agriculture’s Young Farming Champions program aims to create an Australia wide network of Young Farming Champions with diverse roles in the our  food and fibre industries that are passionate and skilled in sharing their values and experiences with the non farming community.

The program equips young farmers, in a safe and nurturing environment, to be the next leaders of agriculture on a national and world scale.

To be a leader you have to have many qualities including the desire, drive and courage to get the best outcomes for the common good.

Meat and Livestock Australia supported Young Farming Champion Josh Gilbert is definitely a young man with a great deal of desire ,drive and courage. He recently penned this blog for the NSW Farmers initiative AgInnovators 

Uniting a fragmented industry

17th Nov 2014By Josh Gilbert, NSW Young Farmers

When R.M. Williams first opened his first store in Adelaide, Sir Sidney Kidman celebrated his birthday in the heart of the city with a rodeo and Pharlap won the Melbourne Cup, 14 percent of the Australian population was employed in Australian agricultural sector. Both rural and urban communities celebrated the industry and a career in agriculture was highly valued.

Today less than three percent of the Australian population is employed in agriculture. Our farmers’ commitment to producing high quality produce has never been stronger but a majority of urban consumers have little concept of what we do and appear relatively indifferent to the origin and quality of the food they select from supermarket shelves.

The bright light in what otherwise could be a depressing picture is the small but growing group of people in society who are interested in how their food and fibre is produced and who are willing to pay for quality.

It is these people who give us the best opportunity to create partnerships with our consumers and help ensure that the wonderful story of Australia’s agriculture gets spread further and wider into the future.

However, in order to have successful and lasting partnerships with consumers who really care about food quality and sustainable farm practice, we, as the Australian agricultural sector, need to come together as a connected, cohesive and collaborative industry. We need to start behind the farmgate, forming partnerships between farmers and the diverse subcategories we personally represent. Without well-founded industry collaboration, agriculture in Australia will not be able to provide a unified, coherent and respected voice that resonates with the community and government.

To emphasise the challenge we face in achieving unity, I want you to think of the first thing that comes to mind when I mention the words ‘agriculture’ or ”farming?

Are you thinking of a subsector such as beef, grain or dairy?

Or perhaps even a commodity like goat meat, cheese, seafood or apples?

Or what about something more specific like Braford Cattle or super fine Merino wool?

Or a farming region such Darling Downs or the Mallee?

Or state farming organisations like NSW Farmers and the Victorian Farmers Federation.

Perhaps you are thinking of one of the plethora of commercial and government bodies in the agricultural sector providing advice, policy and services.

Currently, there are thousands of voices speaking for agriculture with different opinions and agendas and this is limiting our ability to form better relationships with each other, let alone our consumers. Is it any wonder that urban Australia and our politicians are confused about what agriculture stands for and what agriculture wants?

Of course every subsector of agriculture has different specific production methods and policy issues. But we have far more in common than we have differences.  In order for Australian agriculture to prosper we must agree on the main narrative –  which in my view is about sustaining the quality and integrity of our farming operations and products –  and deliver this narrative effectively with a unified voice. As part of this, we need to create better relationships within the industry, support our colleagues in their pursuits and actively show respect and encouragement for our fellow farmers.

One opportunity I am involved with that is achieving success is the Art4Agriculture program. The platform encourages Young Farming Champions from a variety of sectors to collaborate and discuss their ideas about the industry and how we can best move forward together. My involvement in this program has helped me to see other perspectives and has convinced me of the importance of achieving unity on the really important issues.

In order for our industry to receive the respect and admiration that we previously enjoyed, we must work together. We must formulate, collaborate and be innovative with our ideas as an entire industry rather than continuing to focus on what is happening within our respective boundary fences.

Well said Josh. We look forward to the day when silo farming is a thing of the past

free-range-farming