By Cayla Marchant
Produced for online by Melissa Mackay
The value of Australian agricultural exports has grown from $8.2 to $32.5 billion in the past 30 years, but the number of young farmers is plummeting.
The workforce is aging and it is becoming harder to keep skilled workers and attract new ones.
Flower Association executive officer Shane Holburn says no one can afford to maintain or buy farms, pushing more and more young people out of work.
“We used to have a lot of really vibrant, local, regional grower groups,” he says.
“But we’ve lost all of them in Queensland now.”
The demand for Australian produce is still high, with food and fibre being integral parts of everyday life.
But more often than not, workers are left at a dead end when they cannot fulfill the demand.
According to Mr Holburn, this makes it increasingly difficult to start from scratch.
“If you’re a young person living in one of the regional cities and you want to go start a farm, it would be difficult unless you had some sort of wealthy support because banks aren’t always keen on funding farmers to get into the industry,” he says.
AgForce Queensland’s Southern Inland Regional President, Robyn Bryant, has seen first hand the decline in workers and says young people are often discouraged by watching their parents struggle.
“Parents want to see their kids not have to go through the same hard slog as they’ve had to do in the past,” she says.
“A lot of the time the parents encourage them to go away and do something else.”
The National Farmers Federation has developed the National Agriculture Workforce Development Plan and aims to increase the competitiveness of Australian agriculture, by delivering on the industry’s future labour, skills and education needs.