Farmers want a farm: Turning the dream of a life on the land to reality can be tough
As seen on ABC News, 28 July 2017
Young couple Raquel and Steve Wainewright are determined to become farmers.
They both come from rural backgrounds in south-west Victoria, but neither stand to inherit a family farm.
So the pair have built their entire lives around their dream of owning their own farm, including moving to Western Australia to pursue jobs in high-earning and industry-specific roles in order to raise capital and gain experience.
It was the pursuit of this dream that led Raquel Wainewright to focus on finding the most high-earning job she could.
“So I worked from what I wanted to achieve and worked backwards to how I could make that happen.”
Mrs Wainewright said she decided she needed to be in a higher earning role, so she went back to university for three years to become a geologist, which at the time was in high demand during the mining boom.
“There was a shortage of geologists, which were also the highest paid graduates, alongside dentists, so that’s what I did.”
Mrs Wainewright works at Granny Smith Gold Mine in Laverton while her husband has found a role in agriculture, running the University of Western Australia research farm at Pingelly, 150km south east of Perth.
Mr Wainewright said his desire to become a farmer in his own right started at a young age.
After living in WA and saving money for seven years, the Wainewrights have managed to buy a small 160-hectare property of their own in south-west Victoria.
But Mr Wainewright said they have got a long way to go before they can run their own profitable farm business.
Focus on owning, not managing
Another aspiring farmer, Travis Allington has also built his career and life around the dream of becoming a farmer.
Mr Allington originally comes from a broadacre farm at Eneabba, about 140 kilometres south of Geraldton, which his parents sold when he was 18.
He has since studied an agricultural science degree and managed farms in the Falkland Islands. He now manages a farm and is at a point where he wants to find a way to break out on his own.
”If you manage the farm, you’re on a wage and we’ve got a young family. In 20 years’ time, you haven’t really built anything.”
But, like the Wainewrights, the Allingtons are costed out of the market, which is why both couples have contacted new start-up company, Cultivate Farms.
Cultivate Farms is a sort of “matchmaking service” to pair up farmers looking to retire with aspiring farmers, looking to own their own farm businesses.
New start up offers solution
Cultivate Farms is appealing to retiring farmers who do not have children who want to take over their operation, to try and work with young individuals and families in a succession planning scheme with the assistance of investors.
The idea just won a national Regional Australia Institute competition, Lightbulb Moments.
Co-founder Sam Marwood said the idea was built on getting young people into farming, who would otherwise be unable to afford it.
“Access to capital is the number one problem,” he said.
Mr Marwood said the focus of the group is to find people who want to be farmers who don’t have the money and match them with people who have the farm.
He said their model was trying to move away from the traditional idea of inheriting property or owning the whole thing themselves.
“A lot of people are saying they have to save up and it takes a while to save a couple of million dollars,” he said.
“The reality is that it’s too difficult to save.”