Would I advise my kids to become farmers? Country Hour asks the question

Do farmers want their kids to be farmers? A Victorian parliamentary inquiry is looking at why young people don’t want to further their education in agricultural studies. Early submissions says farming parents are one of the greatest deterrents… Hear more on the Country Hour today, and tell us, would you advise your kids to get a career in farming?

In just a few minutes, ABC Radio’s Country Hour will ask the million-dollar question: if life is so good on the land, would you recommend farming to your children?

I would, so long as Zoe and Alex have a passion for animals and the land and don’t have expensive tastes. Farming is nothing if not exciting and challenging. On the other hand, it’s anything but lucrative, particularly if you’re still struggling with a large debt burden as many young farmers must.

Even if they decide to become farmers, I wouldn’t recommend ag studies. The tradition of many farming families is to “get another trade to fall back on first” and it’s wise, whether that trade is boiler making or journalism. It makes sense to learn from other workplaces, acquire fresh skills, make new circles of friends, establish an independent identity and to experience being an employee before you become a manager.

Perhaps even more importantly, second jobs for farmers are incredibly common and the average Australian dairy farming family makes about as much income off the farm as on it. Employment helps us survive the bad years and ride out cash flow droughts.

And, if the worst happens, there are always options.

5 thoughts on “Would I advise my kids to become farmers? Country Hour asks the question

  1. Off farm jobs are possibly only for those whose farm is located near to jobs/town.
    Abscence of expensive tastes is a must. I’d go further & say an ability to be comfortable with poverty. A run of bad years will certainly test the ability to remain cheerful in the face of adversity.


    • Oooh, yes, Steve, I know first-hand how tough farming can be. I’m lucky to have skills that allow me to do a desk job from the farm but know this is not an option for most.


  2. Hi Marion, I like your advice for a fall back trade. However, lots of my ag science friends now also have a diverse range of jobs after graduation. Here’s a sample:
    Teacher, Barrister in environmental law (after more study), finance & banking, IT, medical research (IVF), veterinary research, agronomists, horticulturists, wine consultant(??), quarrantine dogs & mounted police. Some did go back to the farm (after working for other people), or started their own farm business.
    Ag Science can be a stepping stone to lots of other science/environmental related fields. The bonus is that it can be easier to get into a less popular course like Ag if you don’t have the marks for straight science or vet.
    Of course tradies are always in demand too. Lots of opportunities are out there!


  3. Not sure whether we entirely agree with your thoughts on this one….we both studied agriculture, in conjunction with working on various properties prior to attending college. The wealth of knowledge gained from both the practical side on farms and through the college studies is extremely advantageous. Learning from other farming peers through employment and farm tours through college was an enormous contributor to broadening our horizons.
    Agricultural studies can take you alot further than farming….the options following this type of study today are endless. The buck doesn’t stop with the practical side of farming alone!
    Children certainly pick up from their parents the ‘will’ to be farmers, our attitude to the land and our animals ‘rubs off’. Perhaps that will be a positive thing for the future, that children that go on and continue farmng are extremely passionate for what they do.


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