As a part of the 2018 Heywire Youth Summit, Trailblazers were required to write a pitch about their project - of no more than 3 minutes - and present in the Great Hall of Parliament House in front of 350 parliamentarians, philanthropists, public servants and peers.
See below the copy of the pitch for Fledgling Farmers.
As the fifth generation of my family to live atop the Great Dividing Range - I’ve always known that this will be my home. But trying to bring up succession in my family brought nothing but silence and a quick comment on the weather to change the topic.
After prodding my mother, she told me a story involving my grandfather that fits better on the scripts of the bold and the beautiful than in my family history.
My grandfather Jack was one of 9 children - 6 girls and 3 boys – and when his father died suddenly - the farm and assets were only left to two of the boys.
Jack was devastated. And between the crippling self-doubt and confusion, I think my grandfather lost an important part of his identity that day.
We’re really lucky that we had a strong family unit that could get past this. All brothers remained close until their deaths, and cousin sold some of the farm back to my brother as he wanted to write a past wrong.
But there are still repercussions from this that are affecting me and my family generations later.
When you’re a farmer you’re beholden to so many different external influences - market prices, government, trade, and the environment - and because of this farmers have developed a stoicism that is helping feed a communication crisis in Australia.
That’s why I started Fledgling Farmers an online platform to help take back the conversation on succession.
Personally, I love a chat, and I’m not short of a word, but I’m still struggling with how to start talking about succession within my own family.
And travelling around regional communities, and even speaking to people in this room, I know I’m not alone. I’ve heard countless stories of young men – and particularly young women like myself – who are struggling to start the conversation and secure their futures.
Fledgling Farmers right now is a website filled with my research, musings, and observations – but I want to turn it into a national awareness campaign to help farmers sow the seeds of succession.
I want to create online and grassroots engagement on the issue. I want to collate data that will help produce informed resources, tools and eventually workshops and podcasts to help farmers communicate better and start succeeding in succession.
To make this happen, you will be hearing from me – so remember Fledgling Farmers.
I’m not a succession planner. But if I can get the conversation started organically at home and not in a solicitor’s office, Fledgling Farmers is fulfilling its mission.
But why should you care about who gets the farm? Well, agriculture is a BILLION DOLLAR industry, and the 80,000+ family-owned farms in Australia are the ones who need our help to ensure this industry is sustainable and continues to grow.
Fledgling Farmers is helping people communicate better, build social resilience in their business, and will ensure the proud continuation of family farming in Australia. And if you want to secure the futures of young people like me in agriculture, we need to start the conversation on succession.