Farmers reframing how they attract young people to the industry

08 April 2024

Picture this: you are young and enthusiastic, you are passionate about agriculture, and so naturally, you find yourself drawn to a job in the dairy industry. You don't mind milking cows, but you find your mind drifting on the 12th consecutive day in the shed. Instead of focusing on the laborious task of harvesting milk, you find yourself thinking about how good it would be to get off your feet, out of the crap and into the comfortable seat and air-conditioned cab of the New Holland T6.180.

For a large portion of the young people entering our industry there is a need for a variety of work tasks to keep them interested in the job at hand. Gone are the generations of people who could start a task, complete it, and then repeat it the next day. From my generation to yours, we salute you boomers and thank you for the hard yards you put in, but times have changed, and a new generation of farmers is here. There are too many opportunities out there in other industries for us to expect that repetitive tasks will hold the attention of these incoming generations.

As an industry, we must adapt. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with milking cows – in fact, milking the cows is one of the only jobs on a farm that directly pays the bills. But the roles we offer young people must include more than that if we want them to stick around. Variety is key. I have found that the farm staff we have dealt with over the years usually have a natural orientation towards either machinery or animals. You rarely find someone genuinely passionate about both, but unfortunately, the roles often need them to work with both.

We recently decided to flip the typical farmhand role within our farm business. We specifically advertised for someone who was orientated towards tractors. The new title – tractor specialist. We stipulated that they must still be able to fit into the farm team and do their share of milking, but their role would primarily involve looking after things with four wheels rather than things with four legs. This new position has added an extremely valuable person to our team with a real passion for their work, and this passion is maintained through offering a variety of tasks to keep the monotony away, a good mix of tractors and cows. Most importantly, it's a relief to go home at night and know that all aspects of our business are being cared for regardless of whether they have four legs or four wheels.

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