7 March 2024

New program for the Riverina aims to get young farmers off to a good start

| Vanessa Hayden
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Female farmer kneeling in crop

Young farmers are being encouraged to upskill themselves in a new and free Resilient Ready program being offered for the first time in the Riverina. Photo: Supplied.

A free micro-learning program that helps young farmers thrive in the good times and survive when the going gets tough is available to all those operating across the Riverina.

Registrations are now open for the AG.Biz Ready Riverina program with modules released from 2 April to 4 June.

Focused on five-minute modules, the 10-week program is for current and future farm owners, managers and operators, and farmhands who think getting “future ready” in business is too complex, expensive or time-consuming.

“We are now living and working in a new era of compound disasters,” said Resilient Ready program coordinator Bekah Baynard-Smith.

“Taking time to work ‘on’ your farm business has never been more important, particularly for young farming communities.”

She said while most people understood the challenges of disasters such as bushfires, floods and storms there were other less obvious hurdles that people in the agricultural industry faced.

“Businesses can be affected by everything from cyber-attacks to supply chain issues, staff shortages, the geo-politics of the day and the economy. Challenges can come from various angles and often if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

“There’s always something that a farmer needs to be thinking ahead on and getting on the front foot where they can.

“That’s why we have chosen these modules – to build some of those fundamental skills that will be applicable and useful, regardless of what comes their way.”

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Modules cover topics such as getting the right insurance, having the right team of people, transforming what you know, financial viability, being connected into business networks and looking after your own personal wellbeing.

“We have a focus on being happy at work and surrounding yourself with the right people so that whatever comes, you’ve got a solid foundation with your team,” said Bekah.

“We also ask businesses who their linchpin is and pose the question, ‘What if your main person, who knows how to do everything, has an accident or falls ill’?

“Who is going to keep paying the bills, pay the salaries, do the online sales, work the generators?

“We talk about the importance of skills being spread across the team and we ‘plant the seeds’ so people can recognise there are areas they might not have thought about yet.”

Woman standing in front of screen presentation

Resilient Ready program coordinator Bekah Baynard-Smith said the 10-week program would finish on a positive and empowering note. Photo: Supplied.

The program is not all about the ‘doom and gloom’, Bekah reassures.

“The last two modules finish on a really positive and empowering note, so it’s yes, these things could be coming at you and here’s some things you can do but we also hope to inspire people to get creative and think outside of the box.

“Disasters don’t have to be the be all and end all. Our final module is about how you can bring opportunities from the challenges.”

Funded by the Young Farmer Business Program, an initiative of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, AG.Biz Ready Riverina is a Resilient Ready Business Community Resilience (BCR) Toolkit solution.

While it is aimed at those starting out in the agricultural industry Bekah said anyone could enquire about enrolment.

“We are finding that there is still so much to learn across the generations, particularly through the module case studies. We have semi-retired farmers who have a wealth of experience and wisdom to pass down.

“We love hearing their stories and asking them to share thoughts on what their younger farmer self would have liked to have known when they started out and what golden nuggets can they pass down.”

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There will be two face-to-face workshops held in Holbrook (8 April, 3 June) and Temora (9 April, 3 June) as part of the program.

“The workshops are a great opportunity to bring people together so they can build connections,” said Bekah.

“At the final workshop we look at what we’ve learnt over the 10 weeks, what have been the key learnings and major takeaways and we ask what further support might be needed going forward.

“The idea here is not to overwhelm people with a long shopping list of things they have to do differently, it’s bite sized portions. The modules can be completed on your phone, tablet or laptop.

“One week they might revisit their insurance policy or another week maybe organise a team meeting and check everyone is doing OK – just little nudges to keep your farming business resilient and ready for anything.”

If you’d like to register or find out more visit the Resilient Ready website.

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