The new breed of sheep and wool growers need to look at different pathways to getting their own farm.
These include leasing land or managing properties to gain both experience and funds.
Young farmers are facing both record land prices and an increasingly more difficult lending environment with the banking royal commission.
They asked a panel of industry leaders at the New Breed forum, held on Friday night at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo, how they could best enter the market.
Livestock and real estate agent Glenn Rea, McKean McGregor, Bendigo, said there were many people looking at how to enter the market when they didn’t have the cash to put down 60 per cent of a loan.
“I think what we see here tonight is a group of really young progressive farmers, and we are going to see a swift generational change – I know the average age of clients we deal with in our business is 66, and you are probably looking at about 50 per cent in their late 70s,” Mr Rea said.
“So I really see for young farmers coming through the opportunities are as managers, leased ground, start to build up equity, build up some cash, and then have the opportunity to make the acquisition on the farms.
“I can also see the situation of people moving into a corporatised farming situation and being paid a really lucrative wage, because we all know to come from farming it is not an apprenticeship that is two or three years, or even four years like a plumber or a sparky or a builder, it is a lifetime apprenticeship and what you learn as a young person is like a sponge.”
Once young producers have made it onto the land, they are concerned about future profitability, asking panellists how they could become price makers, not price takers, and if supply chain transparency would improve returns.
Fox & Lillie wool broker Eamon Timms said it required producers to stay informed about the industry around them, and what buyers were looking for.
“If we use the example of what has happened in the wool industry now, five to 10 years ago you didn’t see anywhere near the amount of interest that is now being shown in provenance, so there are an increasing amount of people who are now wanting to see a link back to the farm, get the story, get background on the management of the profit in terms of sustainability, environmentally, animal welfare, etc,” Mr Timms said.
“It is about being very aware of what you are doing, keeping up to date about what is being asked for in the market, not just going about your business and doing the same old things every day.
“There are increasing opportunities for people to specialise and tap a niche and that is going to bring more money, because your fixed costs are always going to be your fixed costs, if you can increase your top line its straight through to your bottom line.”
Mr Rea agreed, saying consumer awareness of what they were eating, or wearing, would be one of the ways to make farming “sexy” again.
“We are seeing in the red meat industry now not too far off with the introduction of sheep and lamb in Victoria with electronic identification and the scanning of each animal with its own individual barcode and that flowing through the processing plants to the end consumer, where they can walk into the supermarket in the next two years, see a QR code, scan it on their phone and it will tell them the place of origin – where it has come from, what treatments that animal has had and the whole life history,” he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.