Rural youngsters eye sustainable agriculture careers, for the love and the money
They’re young, ambitious and want agriculture to be their future – not only because they love it but because they want to make money. A ‘Youth in Sustainable Ag’ camp is giving youngsters from across the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York a look at opportunities in agriculture and so far, they like what they see.
And why wouldn’t they? At the Mareeba saleyards yesterday, about 12 participants watched on as record prices were paid for cattle. Brayden Richer from Mt Surprise said it reinforced his desire to forge a career in the cattle industry, and he learned a lot from his experience including his first visit to the sale yards. “It’s been very exciting actually working with other people, going around to different stations, checking out what they’re doing, how they’re sustaining for a better future,” he said. “Cattle are more valuable than what I thought they were. I thought they were just things on four legs, but they actually make money.”
Cattle are more valuable than what I thought they were. I thought they were just things on four legs but they actually make money. Ellie Hughes from Mt Molloy said one day she intended to be a buyer at the saleyards and won’t be afraid to adopt some of the new stock handling techniques she’s learned at the camp. “I really like the look of Brahmans. I think they’re one of the big sellers, definitely, because as you can see in the yards, there’s a lot of Brahmans.”
In the past four days, the youngsters have visited cattle, cane, coffee and cocoa farms, learned about low stress cattle management and met mentors and training experts. But prices, like seasons, can change – as Gerry Collins well knows. Collins is the chairman of the Mareeba Saleyards board and has been involved in either managing, selling or buying cattle for at least four decades.
He said the next generation has every reason to be confident about a future in agriculture. “We’re approaching a time when the global demand for beef looks like… the future for the beef producers from this part of the world looks fairly assured.
Jessie Gaynor cannot wait to get back to Gum Creek Station, near Croydon, to share some of the knowledge she’s learned in recent days. “It’s really opened up my eyes and I’ve loved learning about the stock management, just how you can calculate how many cows you can put in a paddock based on the water and the feed and the country and everything.”
Such responses are exactly what Northern Gulf NRM’s Erica Blumson had hoped for when she applied for a grant from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal – a partnership between philanthropic groups, governments and business. Blumson said it was important young people were exposed to a range of opportunities and ways they might be able to diversify their agricultural pursuits. “They’re very positive. When you talk to the older generation about some of these new ideas, they’re often looking at reasons why they can’t take them on, whereas the youth are really looking for reasons about how they can implement them and what they can do.”