Applications open for Young Farmer Mentor Program
It's often said farmers are the worlds most optimistic gamblers. This may be a slight overreach, but there is no question our nation's farmers are forced to negotiate more business hazards than most small to medium enterprise owners.
Farming is defined by productivity in the face of adversity. Primary producers must adapt to new technology while acknowledging land management practices passed down from generation to generation. It's a very fluid mix of the old and the new.
Succession planning is important in ensuring the long term survival of any family farming enterprise. But fathers sharing information with sons and daughters before retiring is not enough in this age to ensure the success of the next generation.
As regional Australia becomes better-connected opportunities have opened up for farmers to share more information with each other than ever before. Agriculture Victoria has taken advantage of this and rolled out a program designed for more experienced farmers to pass down their knowledge to the next generation.
The Young Farmer and New Entrant Mentoring Program provide young farmers and new entrants the opportunity to be paired with an experienced farmer. Program coordinator, Agriculture Victoria's Sarah Wallis, is rightly proud of the program which has a dozen young farmers participating in the 2021 program.
"This years group are a mix of enterprises and locations from across the state," said Wallis.
"They are all in different stages of their careers, some are going through the succession process.
Everyone is a bit different with what they want to get out of the program, it's really quite tailored to providing young farmers with the information they need now".
Applications recently opened for the 2022 edition of the program with a total of 8 mentees to be selected to take part. "We are looking for passionate, young farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 to register their interest," said Wallis.
Jamie Pepper works on the family property at Tahara near Hamilton in the South West of Victoria. He is part of the 2021 intake of mentees. Jamie says his reason for joining the program was simply to gather experience from outside the traditional family business.
"I need to take on new experiences, broaden my horizons and actually bring new learnings in and apply them on my farm, " said Pepper.
"That's why I applied for the program, I wanted to connect with a more experienced farmer who has been in a similar position to me in the past".
"I must say I have learnt a lot from him so far".
Samantha Mitchell joined this year's young farmers mentoring intact in a similar situation to Jamie. She is a broadacre farmer north of Birchip and runs a mixed farming system on her property including cereals, canola, lentils and vetch with 500 merino ewes feeding both themselves and the farm business bottom line.
Ms Mitchell is encouraging young farmers to put their hands up and apply for the 2022 program.
"Having someone who is experienced on hand to answer questions has been really handy," said Mitchell.
The Young Farmer and New Entrant Mentoring Program is funded by the Victorian Government's Smarter, Safer Farms initiative through its skills program.
The application period will close at midnight on Sunday 24 October 2021.
Applications can be done online via the Agriculture Victoria website.