Relevant focus inspires Ag Bureau involvement

Relevant focus inspires Ag Bureau involvement


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SEEKING KNOWLEDGE: Lower Light farmer Jakob Curnow says his involvement in Ag Bureau helps him stay up-to-date with farming news.

SEEKING KNOWLEDGE: Lower Light farmer Jakob Curnow says his involvement in Ag Bureau helps him stay up-to-date with farming news.

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Jakob Curnow epitomises young farmers breathing new life into Ag Bureau, with the Mallala farmer saying the organisation helps him stay up to date with farming methods.

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The Agricultural Bureau of SA has about 1300 members across the state, with the involvement of young farmers being key to the success of the organisation.

Ag Bureau chair Mark Grossman said while memberships had previously been decreasing, they had remained relatively stable for the past five years, with youth playing a big role in the success of branches.

"The stronger and more active branches are the ones with a good uptake of the next generation becoming involved," Mr Grossman said.

He said young farmers were often keen to become actively involved in the organisation almost immediately after signing up.

"At many branches, the younger members are taking on committee positions which is a great development opportunity for them," he said.

"It's good to have the combination of young and old there, sharing together through a difficult time." 

Mallala branch has one of the strongest memberships of about 60 branches across the state, with new member Jakob Curnow epitomising young farmers breathing new life into the organisation.

Having joined Mallala Ag Bureau at the start of the year, the 25-year-old said most of the members at the branch had been in the farming industry for at least a few decades. 

"Generally there would be between 15 and 30 people at a meeting, and the majority of people there would be between 35 and 50 years old," he said. 

Jakob said word of mouth was a big factor for recruiting young members.

He himself was first inspired to become involved in Ag Bureau by his father Geoff, a former president of the Mallala branch.

"Dad was involved with Ag Bureau for about 25 years, and he made a point of trying to get some younger people on board," he said.

When you go back to town people don't know where their food comes from, or what goes on. - JAKOB CURNOW

Relevancy and diversity was a key focus of the organisation, with Jakob saying topics presented at meetings was always highly pertinent.

"It's usually straight out of research and is a great way to stay up-to-date, otherwise you just hear stories on the grapevine which have often been twisted and turned."

In addition to providing knowledge, Jakob said the social and community aspect of Ag Bureau was very important.

"Talking to people who you might not see all the time is really good, they often won't be talking about the same things as you so you're always learning new things," he said.

Agronomists and grain marketers often presented at Ag Bureau meetings according to Jakob, as a result of a heavy focus on cropping in the Mallala region.

CITY-COUNTRY GAP MUST BE BRIDGED

PEOPLE living in urban areas are often completely unaware of the work of farmers, according to Lower Light farmer Jakob Curnow.

"When you're out and about in the country, you see the importance of how farms work and what they bring to society, but when you go back to town people don't know where their food comes from, or what goes on," he said.

"Here in Lower Light we're only half an hour north of Adelaide, but so many people don't set foot outside the suburbs and so they don't know how we operate out here."

Jakob said it did not take much for the reputation of farmers to be tainted.

"If one person does the wrong thing, such as reaping on a fire ban day or keeping stock which they can't feed, if someone sees this they immediately think that all farmers don't know what they're doing," he said.

"Either that or they'll see something on the news, like dead sheep in a paddock, and get the wrong idea.

"Somewhere along the lines we need to bridge the gap and communicate with the city folk about rural life."

Despite the close proximity to the city, Jakob said services in his area were not always as good as they could be, and gaining access to the national broadband network had proved challenging.

"We finally have it now, but it seemed to take forever to get it," he said.

"We're fairly close to town, but it took so long that we may as well have been out the other side of Roxby Downs," he said.

Related reading: Lenswood Forest Range Ag Bureau Re-Launch

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