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Where are all the young farmers?

WORLD TRAVEL: Claire Dunne spent more than six months working on a Canadian sheep farm as part of a rural placement that also gave her the chance to travel in the US.
WORLD TRAVEL: Claire Dunne spent more than six months working on a Canadian sheep farm as part of a rural placement that also gave her the chance to travel in the US. Supplied

THERE have been many reports about young people turning away from agriculture, but Central Queensland's Claire Dunne is not one of them.

The 21-year-old grew up on Wooroona, a 12,000-hectare acre cattle property near Duaringa, where she currently works.

A study funded by the Rural Industries R&D Corporation found that Australia has a younger farming population compared to all but one other developed country, New Zealand.

This keeps Australia "competitively young", despite the number of younger farmers entering agriculture falling.

The report, titled New entrants to Australian agricultural industries - where are all the young farmers?, also found that the low exit rate of farmers over 65 led to the increased median age of the farming population.

Claire said even if one day she decided not to live on the family property she would will always be a part of it.

"I'll always have some type of role, having grown up with it," she said.

"Even though we have a young population, a lot still don't come home. "It's hard coming back to certain communities if there are no younger people.

"However, it is a very good industry to come into, especially if you're on a family farm."

Claire's story:

A CANADIAN winter could not be more different to a Central Queensland summer.

But that's where Claire Dunne found herself earlier this year, on a trip of a lifetime, undertaking a rural placement on an Ontario sheep and cropping enterprise.

The 21-year-old grew up on her family's 12,000-hectare cattle property, Wooroona, near Duaringa.

She took six-and-a-half months off to live and work on the sheep station on a program organised through Agriventure.

Agriventure provides rural placements around the world, including Canada, Denmark, Japan, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

While it was mainly an excuse to travel, Claire said it was also an experience getting to see how other people operated their farms.

"It was nice being integrated with their family and experiencing Canada from their point of view," she said.

"It was a great experience ... something completely different."

Her farm was about five minutes away from the nearest town, and she said she really got to know the community and other people on placements at nearby farms.

She said the Canadian operations were a lot different to Australia's, with much smaller farms.

During her placement it was winter and each day they had to herd the sheep into a barn to keep them warm and out of the snow - something you would never have to worry about in CQ.

The Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo and festival held in Alberta, was one of the highlights for Claire.

Topics:  agriculture rirdc young farmers youth