Minyip cereal and pulse farmer Tom McGrath part of Young Farmers Ministerial Advisory Council report on farm youth

MINYIP cereal and pulse farmer Tom McGrath has been part of an advisory council that will hand down recommendations on keeping young people in farming.

Mr MrGrath said he and the other 10 members of the Young Farmers Ministerial Advisory Council hoped to present their findings to Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford in October.

The council of young farmers in different agricultural sectors from around Victoria met late last month in Warragul.

“It’s coming up to two years since the council was formed,” Mr McGrath said.

“Our key focus from the start has been young people to agriculture: How do we retain young people and attract new young people into the industry?

“We have spent a fair amount of time looking at that and talking to people in the industry.”

Mr McGrath said the council had come up with two main recommendations.

“One is financial literacy and business management surrounding the farm gate and how you go about making the farm more profitable,” he said. 

“That has been noted as a key issue that needs addressing.

“The other we came up with is the social impact: networking and engaging with other young people in the area; isolation is a huge factor for attracting and retaining everyone to rural and remote areas.”

Mr McGrath said the advisory council was drafting its recommendations and would present them to Ms Pulford in October or November.

“There are a fair few recommendations on the table and over the next six months we will keep looking at them and refining them so we come up with the best recommendations to put forward,” he said.

“We believe that through financial literacy and business management skills that young people will  be able to make profits and continue to farm.

“That’s been an issue for smaller farms, who haven’t been able to manage their finances and have been bought out by larger farms.”

Mr McGrath runs his own farm with wheat, barley, beans, chickpeas and 50 Merino wethers. 

“I’m facing the issues that the council is addressing, those difficult battles in trying to make my business more profitable,” he said.