The dairy industry needs to place greater emphasis on attracting young people to secure its future, a panel told this year’s Murray Dairy Business Forum.
Speaking in Shepparton on November 19, Australian Farm Institute executive director Mick Keogh, Ag Consulting co-director Jeanette Long, Achieve Ag Solutions consultant Nathan Scott and Will Ryan, a dairy farm manager from Gippsland, discussed several issues about attracting young talent to the industry, including working hours, the desire of people to live in the city and stability.
Mr Keogh said the industry was hung up on making management and ownership the same thing and paths to enter the industry needed to be more diverse than through family connections or marriage. He called for more mechanisms to better manage risk and allow young people with low capital to enter the industry.
Yet Mr Scott said a key part of attracting more young people was reassessing how the dairy industry presented itself.
“People don’t need a job with you anymore; you need to sell yourself to them. And maybe it is allowing them to scratch that itch and go down to Melbourne and have fun because you’ve set up that system that allows them to work five days a week and they can duck down to Melbourne for the weekend,” he said.
“I think the days of tying someone to a farm and expecting them to stay there seven days a week are over. It’s very different if you own the farm, you’re willing to do it, but they haven’t got any skin in the game. So why the hell are they going to bust themselves any more than they absolutely need to?”
Mr Scott also urged the dairy industry not to become complacent and rest on their history.
“Being proud of your tradition is just a reason to not make progress,” he said.
“I’m the start of Gen Y and it’s called that for a reason, because that’s what we ask — why do we do it this way.”
Ms Long said the roles young people were currently being educated for were largely yet to be created and many individuals would now be looking outside the dairy industry to gain the relevant skills as technology and careers change.
The final panel at the 2017 Murray Dairy Business Forum focused on bringing young people into the dairy industry.