Inspiring the next generation of Australia’s young dairy farmers is the focus of the innovative Proud to be a Dairy Farmer program. As Australia’s third largest rural industry, dairy is encouraging young farmers to learn more about the vibrant and rewarding industry.
Run by Fonterra’s farmer representative body, the Fonterra Australia Suppliers’ Council, the program brings young workers together to appreciate the many career opportunities available in the industry.
Northern Victorian farmer Celia Hobbs completed the program in 2022 and enjoyed the chance to connect with other young farmers, opening the door to exchange ideas and gain different perspectives.
"The success of the dairy industry relies on young workers coming up through the ranks making decisions about their future. This unique learning opportunity will provide great opportunities for young workers that they wouldn’t experience normally on the job,” Alan said.
“The program provides off farm opportunities for young workers to gain access to different ideas and thinking, learn about career progression, and to meet new people who also work in dairy.”
“In previous years, we have seen young farmers walk away with a greater sense of confidence needed to prepare themselves for what’s ahead in this dynamic industry,” he added.
Fifty young dairy workers have already taken part in Proud to be a Dairy Farmer since its inaugural program in 2021.
At its core, the program focuses on celebrating the success of the industry and the people in it.
“In what can be isolating work at times, this program showcases career pathways and shares success stories of people in dairy. The dairy industry is full of great success stories. Together, we can share and celebrate that success so that the next generation can learn from it and strive to do even better,” Alan said.
All dairy farm employees from across Australia are encouraged to apply, regardless of the dairy processor they supply.
Lockington farmer Celia Hobbs, who completed the program in 2022, said the program motivated her to stay in dairy after seeing the opportunities within the industry firsthand.
“I was having a tough period on farm and couldn’t picture the future, or my role in it,” Celia said.
“Proud to be a Dairy Farmer changed my mindset about the future and gave me the motivation to give dairy a real crack,” she added.
Celia credits the program for creating valuable connections with other young farmers, opening the door to exchange ideas and gain different perspectives.
“I came home from the program and started thinking differently immediately. A lot of that was driven by conversations with others I met in the program about what they were doing on their farms,” she said.
Celica strongly encourages others to apply for the 2024 program.
“It gives you a fresh outlook for your career and the industry. What I loved was seeing where the industry could take you, and what your future might look like,” she said.
“That was the turning point, and I haven’t looked back,” she added.
Celia credits the program for getting her in the right mindset to give dairy a real crack. She now farms with her partner and family in Lockington, northern Victoria.