Keynote speaker provides insights for young farmers

Julia Jones
Julia Jones
Do not be afraid to make mistakes: that was a message delivered to young farmers earlier this month.

In delivering a keynote address at the AGMARDT New Zealand Young Farmers Conference in Christchurch on Friday, February 1, KPMG farm systems specialist Julia Jones offered some life lessons and insights into changing international markets.

Ms Jones began by talking about her rural upbringing on the West Coast and her progression up the career ladder.

''Just remember that we all have moments in time that aren't good and it's those experiences, the little things that don't quite work, that give you the most insight.

''Everyone's journey or road map is different. There are lots of ways to learn and grow.''

While she had not been to university, Ms Jones said she had been fortunate to have plenty of coaches and mentors to guide her.

''It's not about changing you. It's about getting the support you need to grow and get better at what you're doing.

''I heard [former All Black coach] Graham Henry once say 'the moment you think you've made it, you're buggered'. You've got to keep growing and evolving.''

She ended her talk by encouraging the young farmers to plan on ''experimenting a little' and diversifying their land use.

''Embrace failure. There will be things you try and they won't work, but keep trying and learning from your mistakes.''

Ms Jones said her role with KPMG was to ''inspire a new generation of food producers'' and that ''new generation'' was defined by ''attitude not age''.

''We have got to drive economic relevance. No matter how good your intentions are, someone has to pay.

''So we've got to make sure we've got economic relevance and make sure we understand what's happening outside our shores.''

Change was happening in the international marketplace, with computer scientists entering into food production, creating both ''disruption'' and opportunities for New Zealand farmers.

She said it was likely to be ''another three to five years'' before lab-grown meat was available in United States supermarkets.

''The only thing they haven't quite worked out is how to grow the fat and muscle that gives meat its taste.''

But with $US8trillion ($NZ11.8trillion) worth of food being sold on the world market each year, there was plenty of room for New Zealand producers, who earned $40billion a year from food exports.

''We have a big advantage on the world stage because we can produce artisan, niche products and demand a higher price.''

-By David Hill

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