Grow your food and fibre future forum: communique
A forum with industry leaders and young professionals to discuss how agricultural sector could attract and retain young people.
The forum was an outcome of the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into the Capacity of the Farming Sector to Attract and Retain Young Farmers and Respond to an Ageing Workforce. The inquiry recommended that the Victorian Government and industry work together to address issues including improving the image of agriculture, career pathways, mentoring and networking, employment practices, and new models for business and finance.
The forum was the first step in bringing young professionals and industry together to work with government on these issues. Industry leaders and young professionals were able to consider the recommendations of the Parliamentary Inquiry and share their views on the best approaches to address any gaps in the identified themes going forward. Participants have agreed to explore a number of possible initiatives to attract and retain young people in the food and fibre industry.
Industry leaders will meet with Minister Walsh again in six months to discuss progress on these actions.
Victorian government contribution
Following the discussions at the forum, the Victorian Government has since announced further support for the next generation of food and fibre producers by providing a total of $240,000 of funding for two years to support a careers adviser position in the Victorian Farmers Federation.
Minister Walsh said the government has already announced a range of initiatives to encourage young people to choose agriculture as a career path that include:
- boosting the Young Farmer Stamp Duty Exemption;
- undertaking a costing study to test the feasibility of establishing specialist schools for agricultural education at years 11 and 12;
- facilitating a young farmer state committee to build links between existing young farmers and rural youth groups at a local, state and national level;
- increasing the funding available under the Young Farmer Finance scheme administered by Rural Finance;
- the Grow Your Food and Fibre Career campaign that highlights agriculture as a productive and fulfilling profession for young Victorians; and
- reinvigorating the Victorian Young Farmers organisation by providing $400,000 of seed funding over four years.
To complement activities being undertaken by the Victorian Government, industry participants at the forum agreed to progress a number of actions within each identified theme.
Actions will be progressed by the following organisations, all of which were chosen based on expertise within the five key themes:
- Royal Agriculture Society of Victoria
- Victorian Farmers Federation
- Gardiner Foundation
- Dairy Australia
- Rural Finance Corporation.
The image of agriculture
Action one: Explore opportunities for food and fibre professionals to speak to school students about career opportunities in the food and fibre industry.
Action two: Coordinate opportunities for relevant organisations to promote careers in food and fibre to mainstream audiences, through initiatives such as the Herald Sun Career Expo.
Action one: Coordinate information across industry sectors to engage and support the Primary Industries Education Foundation's efforts to disseminate information the curriculum.
Action two: Work with career advisers in Victorian schools to support access to, and promotion of career opportunities in the food and fibre industry.
Mentoring and networks
Action one: Create the opportunity for a Mentoring Alliance across agricultural sectors to ensure standardisation and best practice of mentoring in the food and fibre industry.
Action two: Investigate an online mentoring platform, which would be neutral, span agriculture sectors, and free to access by users. Content and design would be informed by a taskforce overseen by the Mentoring Alliance
Action one: Explore the development of an employer of choice guide for agriculture.
Action two: Collect case studies of best practice models in agriculture that support planning for employee development as an important strategic input, rather than a cost.
New models for business and finance
Action one: Facilitate an Advisory Council tasked with investigating 12 identified new farm finance models and test the suitability and feasibility for agriculture industries.
Action two: Undertake a scoping project about linking the completion of training to improved risk profile of new entrants to agriculture.