30 January 2024. Michael Guerin, AgForce CEO

One of AgForce’s greatest strengths as a member representative body - is our inclusion and encouragement of the next generation to fulfil a life on the land and take their seat at the decision-making table.

The AgForce Young Producer Council or YPC, led by Emma Knight and Bronte Lloyd, has effectively brought critical issues to our attention that otherwise may have been missed – and these are issues that affect the future of our agricultural nation.

One issue raised is that of extreme land values, compounded by the lack of achievable financial mechanisms to access capital to support emerging primary producers into land ownership. There are real concerns that this deficit could thwart ambitions of emerging farmers who seek to purchase and operate agricultural land. If left unresolved it could affect our nation’s food security. 

Prime agricultural land used for farming in Australia is declining, while demand for food and fibre is increasing globally. 

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) predicts that by 2050, the world’s population will exceed 9 billion, and that to meet that demand, food production must increase by 70%. Yet since 1992, Australia’s prime agriculture land has decreased by 15%, consumed by urban sprawl and other factors.

Since 1990 the average value of a farm has increased more than 220%, while the number of farms worth less than $500,000 has halved according to NAB’s Business Research and Insights.

And it’s our young members who have proactively come up with at least part of the solution.

Through a comprehensive consultation and development process, the AgForce Young Producers Council has developed a First Farm Buyers Guarantee Scheme and will lobby throughout 2024 to make sure the major parties include the scheme as part of their policy platform for the State and Federal elections.

At its heart, the guarantee scheme is about providing a framework to allow a new generation of farmers to enter land ownership, and in essence to further contribute to the nation’s food and fibre security.  It does not seek to abrogate financial responsibility, but it does seek to ensure a viable and achievable pathway exists for emerging farmers.

ABS data shows the average age of the Australian farmer is now 58 years. Together with the rising age of the Australian farmer and rising land values, it is becoming increasingly difficult for emerging farmers to purchase and operate agriculture land, even with family succession on the horizon.

Rural communities are becoming adversely linked to the inability to retain young, emerging farmers in rural areas.

It is time to turn the tide and support the next generation into land ownership sooner.