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.