The dairy industry needs to place greater emphasis on attracting young people to secure its future, a panel told the Murray Dairy Business Forum last week.
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 entry to the industry needed to be more diverse than through familial connections or marriage.
He called for more mechanisms to better manage risk and allow young people with low capital to enter the industry.
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 any more, 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 to not become complacent and rest on its 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?’’