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Monto farmer speaks in Canberra

OLD HAND: Monto farmer Maree Perkins was one of 30 Australian’s invited to take part in the Youth in Agriculture Think Tank earlier this week.
OLD HAND: Monto farmer Maree Perkins was one of 30 Australian’s invited to take part in the Youth in Agriculture Think Tank earlier this week.

MAREE Perkins may only be 32 but she has farming experience beyond her years.

After winning ABC Heywire 10 years ago with a story discussing the challenges of buying her first property, Maree was invited to attend the Youth in Agriculture Think Tank.

Maree, along with 30 other participants from around Australia, travelled to Canberra last week to take part in the high-level think tank.

The group discussed five main issues affecting youth in agriculture, including education, building strong communities, better product promotion, better communication and the farmer wants a farm.

Having bought her Monto property with husband Rohan at the age of 22, Maree was the perfect person to speak on the difficulties of obtaining financing for young farmers.

"I was the only one there with their own property so I was like the old lady that everyone was checking with," Maree said.

"I spoke about how hard it can be to buy a property and go against more established graziers.

Maree said when it came to the couple buying their first property, they had many difficulties securing finance.

"We were lucky that we had two very supportive sets of parents behind us."

"I spoke about how hard it can be to buy a property and go against more established graziers."

Maree was passionate about speaking on communication between mines, government and agriculture and the financial difficulties young people encounter when trying to buy their own properties.

"We want to put a program in place to help get young people on the land," she said.

"We want banks to decrease their risk management for young people and get some incentives to get people back on the land.

"I know a lot of people who have said to their children 'go and get a trade because this is too hard'.

She said when she got there, there were nine other people passionate about financial issues.

"So I took a step back and spoke about another issue I am very interested in and that is the communication between mines, government and agriculture.

"When we first got there, we spoke about why we were there and what we wanted to get out of the think tank and the issues we wanted sorted.

"We broke off into groups and each presented a 10-minute talk to the Agricultural Minister Joe Ludwig and Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Sid Sidebottom.

"I think what a lot of people forget, too, is that even once you get your property, every day is a struggle," Maree said.

She said people had to work hard to make sure their property was working the way it should.

"We just hope to plant a seed in someone's mind so they say this is not right and it needs to change."

During her time in Canberra, Maree was also asked to be on the DAFF policy review board.

Topics:  biloela farm finance women on the land