Social barriers need to be 'broken'

Federated Farmers Southland provincial president Russell MacPherson, of Centre Bush, is a member of the Venture Southland, Southland Futures Primary Careers Youth Strategy steering group.

He wanted to see more young people from both urban and rural backgrounds encouraged to work in the agricultural sector.

''It does seem a waste of human capital when young people are not interested,'' Mr MacPherson said.

''There are always opportunities in dairy farms for young people but it is hard to get New Zealanders to come on to our farms.

''That is why farmers get migrants who are very good workers, and that is why farmers employ them.''

He said young people needed to understand they could become quite wealthy if they knuckled down and got involved in the industry.

''It is a great job that pays well and encourages young people.

''They have got to start at the bottom and work their way up the food chain, but for some reason [many] New Zealanders want to start at the top, but it doesn't work like that.''

He said the media could also be blamed for portraying dairy farming negatively.

It had a part to play and needed to stop stereotyping the industry, so the young people would have an open mind about it.

''We need to work on breaking down social barriers.''

He said farming might not be everyone's cup of tea but there were a lot of young people from urban backgrounds who would enjoy working on the land.

His vision was to encourage young people from places such as Auckland to move down to work on the farms.

He said if young people did not consider farm jobs as a career, eventually many farms would disappear out of New Zealand ownership.

''If you take a long-term view of the industry, to be a farmer there's 20 years of poverty to own a farm.

''For young people seeing their future in farm ownership, they are going to have to make sacrifices, but they can come out quite wealthy people.''

- by Yvonne O'Hara