GROWING UP: Tim Crothers is among a new generation who are learning vital skills about growing crops and working on the land, but the passion is all his own.
GROWING UP: Tim Crothers is among a new generation who are learning vital skills about growing crops and working on the land, but the passion is all his own. Marian Faa

Young farmers bring hope to industry facing workforce crisis

PASSIONATE young farmers are bringing hope to Warwick's agricultural community.

Amid concerns a perception of hardship and the lure of better pay could draw youth away from the industry, young people are getting their hands dirty and following their passion for life on the land.

Days spent sitting on the tractor with his father inspired enterprising 12-year-old Tim Crothers to develop his own agribusiness this summer.

While some children are spending their holidays watching TV, Tim has been ploughing soil, measuring plots and planting seeds.

Now his roadside stall on Willovale Rd is brimming with corn, watermelon and other vegies and the young farmer is reaping the benefits.

"It's been going really well and a lot of people are buying stuff,” he said.

Up-and-coming farmers Lachlan and Harry McLaren from Victoria Hill were selling a sweet deal at the Warwick Pig and Calf sale as they look ahead to a future in farming.
Up-and-coming farmers Lachlan and Harry McLaren from Victoria Hill were selling a sweet deal at the Warwick Pig and Calf sale as they look ahead to a future in farming. Marian Faa

Tim said he enjoys the time outdoors and seeing money flow in from enthusiastic customers.

Brothers Lachlan and Harry McLaren have seen the sweet side of holiday farm work too.

The pair had success selling watermelons off the back of a ute at the first Pig and Calf Sale for 2019 but making a buck was just a bonus, they said.

"Helping out on the farm is fun, you learn heaps of things like with how to work the irrigator, baling up lucerne, hay cutting,” 14-year-old Lachlan said.

"It's a fun way to spend your holidays - it's great.”

The brothers, who live west of Allora, are deadset keen on a farming future but said many friends didn't understand.

"Some people just don't really like it or find it interesting,” Lachlan said.

"People our age don't realise how important farming is. I think they just don't think that much of where their food comes from they would rather think about other things.”

Their passion for farming is encouraging for grandfather Malcolm Duff, who is concerned a decline in young farmers could leave the industry in strife. "I had three boys and they all went off to do other things.

"One is a diesel mechanic, one is an electrician and the other is about to become a plumber,” he said.

"They can go off and work in the mines and earn much more money.”

Lisa, Tim, Kinley and Meghan Crothers have been keeping busy on the farm during the school holidays.
Lisa, Tim, Kinley and Meghan Crothers have been keeping busy on the farm during the school holidays. Marian Faa

Mr Duff said pathways into farming were limited for the younger generation as land and on-farm costs rise.

"It's just getting harder and harder for the young ones unless it's a family farm. To buy into a farm today is about $2.5million and you'd be lucky to make half of that back,” he said.

Seeing families or neighbours struggle financially could put children off farming, Mr Duff said.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show an ageing of farmers and a decline in younger people entering the industry.

A survey conducted by the National Farmers Federation last year indicated labour supply was one of the biggest challenges farmers expected to face.

But Mr Duff said the farming lifestyle was rewarding and his son Mitchell agreed. After six years as a diesel mechanic in Warwick, Mitchell recently returned to work on the farm.

"It is something I always wanted to do as I was growing up and the time was just right to come back,” he said. "It's not the safest of jobs but if you're born and raised on it you will always have a bit of passion for it.”

Lachlan and Harry McLaren love working on the land with their uncle Mitchell Duff and grandfather Malcolm Duff.
Lachlan and Harry McLaren love working on the land with their uncle Mitchell Duff and grandfather Malcolm Duff. Marian Faa


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