Young farmer’s growing success, Kiama Bugle, 7 April, 2024

There’s a lot of doom and gloom in the business community right now, with spiralling costs and low demand killing off many enterprises, but when it comes to dairy farming there’s plenty of optimism on the NSW South Coast. 

Justin Walsh, 39, runs a major dairy farming operation at Jasper Brush just past Berry. 

The area was named after the brother of one of the early settlers John Ingold. His brother Jasper died in 1860 before he could leave England for Australia, while the term brush refers to the original temperate rainforest which once coated the area. 

Justin milks some 380 dairy cows each day, sending some 7000 litres a day to Sydney which is then sold under the brand name Pauls. 

“Farming is the only industry where you can be 50 and everyone considers you young,” he laughs. “I didn’t think I would end up being a dairy farmer when I went off to uni, but I always thought I might end up running my own business. 

“There is a lifestyle aspect, my father has only ever lived on the two houses on this property his entire life. There are always spin off benefits. But it has been a very successful business, it has been financially rewarding.”

Now there’s some words you don’t hear together very often these days, successful business, financially rewarding. 

And Justin is more than happy to throw his weight behind the Young Farmer Business Program being run by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The NSW Young Farmer Business Program, which began in 2016, is dedicated to empowering the next generation of farmers by providing them with business skills and resources to succeed in farming enterprises in a rapidly evolving industry.

Whether young farmers are just starting out in the industry, looking to create their own businesses, or expand and grow existing family operations, the Young Farmer Business Program aims to help the next generation to make informed decisions.

Registrations are now open for workshops in Nowra, Bega and online for the Ag.Biz Ready Program for young farmers in the South East of NSW.

Focused on 5-minute intervals, the program is aimed at every young farmer who thinks getting “future ready” in business is too complex, expensive or time consuming. 

Throughout the 10 week program, young farmers benefit from 10 micro-learning modules relevant to regional business needs,  two minute video case studies filmed with a local business peer and workshops in Nowra, Bega and online. 

Justin, who studied agricultural science at Sydney University, speaks highly of his own education. “It taught me how to think about farming as actually a business,” he says. “It taught me how to think about challenges.

“When I came home, if I hadn’t had that time at uni, I think I would have fallen into the same old patterns. I just wanted to get on with it. My mom and dad were looking at retiring. It was a bit of a blank slate. 

“Farming is not always easy, but it has a lot of things going for it. Agriculture needs positive stories. 

“Compared to the rest of the world, I would say there is an unbelievable amount of opportunity. Farmers in general are getting older and they are looking for young people coming through to take over existing businesses. 

“For people who have the right skills, who are willing to learn and are willing to put in the time and effort, there is unbelievable potential in agriculture. All the aging farming population are looking to retire.

“That is why the Young Farmer program is really good, it gives them the opportunity to learn some of the business skills. It is about helping people set up their business opportunities for success, and to face the industry’s unique challenges.”

Module topics for the Young Farmers program include getting the right insurance, cybersecurity, achieving financial viability, forming business networks, and turning disasters into opportunities.

Justin concludes: “In the old days, farmers were more like Old McDonald. Now they are more like multi-million dollar businesses.”

To find out more go to the website: https://www.youngfarmer.nsw.gov.au/

People can register at any stage during the program – it’s self-paced, although the learning modules are released weekly, beginning this week.

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