There is no room for ordinary in agriculture anymore.

These days I get asked to speak at many varied events and that pleases me greatly

This month it is the Future World Eco Technology Centre in Wollongong and the topic is ‘Sustainable Urban Food Production”

Once upon a time when I was just starting my crusade ( Farmers Call to Arms) to give the community real farmers they could relate to and most importantly talk to; Rosemary Stanton was the face of sustainable agriculture at every community forum I went to. I was mortified. Expert on human nutrition she may be, commercial farmer she is not and whilst my degree gives me a sound knowledge of human nutrition and I have opinions about it there is no way I would up put myself up as an expert. Rosemary has strong opinions indeed about sustainable agriculture but that’s all they are, armchair expert opinions.

So I asked myself why is Rosemary asked to talk on this topic and not a farmer. After hearing her speak a couple of times and attending a few agriculture conferences the reason was obvious Rosemary Stanton is a damned good highly charismatic presenter

It then became very clear to me agriculture desperately needed farmers who were both experts in their field and charismatic speakers who could relate to urban audiences and urban audiences to them.

This is why I love and fight so hard for the Young Farming Champions program. (See footnote)

In November last year I presented at the Future Focused Ag Oz forum to a group of 20 young rising stars of agriculture. The topic of my presentation was “Wanted extraordinary people for an extraordinary challenge”

I started my presentation with a picture of me and said “My name is Lynne Strong and I am extraordinary”  Slide 1

This was followed by a picture of Michael and Nick with the statement “ I farm with my family and they are extraordinary”  Slide 2

I then put up a slide with a picture of our cows and said “our cows supply 50,000 Australians with milk everyday and they are extraordinary” Then I said “ as you can see there is a pattern forming here extraordinary can be contagious.” Slide 3

With that I asked each person to introduce themselves to the person sitting next to them and then tell them they were extraordinary and of course these exciting young people got into the groove straight away.

Slide 4 went on to say “Feeding, clothing and housing the world now and in the next 50 years is going to require an extraordinary effort. This means we need extraordinary people to take up the challenge.  There is no room for ordinary in agriculture anymore”

Now when I do a new presentation that’s a bit out there I run it by my family. This time I only showed them slides 1, 2 and 3 without telling them who the audience was.  They both looked shocked and said “You are not giving that presentation to dairy farmers are you?”  When I said no its for a group of young farmers with similar mindset to the Young Farming Champions they were quite comfortable with that but assured me I could never give that presentation to a group of dairy farmers.

I recently asked a wise person who works across all industries why dairy farmers are such quiet achievers.? Why has it been inbuilt in dairy farmers to play things down? Why aren’t we encouraged to celebrate?

He said the dairy industry is like the egg industry. They are the two most silo orientated industries in Australia and this mindset is embeded in their culture.

It is clear to me and the exciting young farmers I meet and work with we need a culture of change as being quiet achievers is achieving very little. Agriculture has great stories to tell and farmers should be loud and proud. If agriculture is going to overcome the challenges and grasp the opportunities with both hands it is imperative that we find vehicles for our young farmers to stand up and show Australia (and the world) just how extraordinary our farmers are.

I am currently putting together a number of blog posts for the Art4agriculutureChat site that have been written by some of the inspiring young farmers I have met over the last 12 months.

Last week we featured Melissa Henry and thanks to the twitterverse and Facebook Melissa’s story is now one of the Art4AgricultureChat most popular blog posts. It is clear that the community is interested in stories about young farmers written by young farmers  and we will be sharing them with you as often as we can

Next up is Young Farming Champion, AYOF Roadie and NSW Farmers Young Farmers’ Council Chair Hollie Baillieu followed by Horizon Scholar Rozzie O’Reilly. Two extraordinary young farmers of the future.

You can read Hollies post here Agriculture can take you anywhere you chose

If you know an exciting young farmer and would like to share their story with the world send me an email at Lynnestrong@cloverhilldairies.com.au

Footnote

The Young Farming Champions program was inspired by the most impressive initiative I have ever been involved in which is the Climate Champions program.

The Climate Champions program is a cross industry partnership of farmers across Australia which has exposed me to the bright minds from other industries. There is nothing more rewarding for your personal development than surrounding yourself with innovative thinkers you can learn from. The Climate Champions program is managed by the fabulous team from Econnect who not only deliver the workshops they support each of the 34 farmers 365 days 24/7

The Climate Champions program is a collaboration between the Grains Research & Development Corporation, Managing Climate Variability and Meat & Livestock Australia