FUTURE'S BRIGHT: Gavin Lerch, third left, with young Bundaberg cane growers at the Next Gen meet-up this week.
FUTURE'S BRIGHT: Gavin Lerch, third left, with young Bundaberg cane growers at the Next Gen meet-up this week. Contributed

The farmers with our food future in their hands

LIKE in any region built on cattle or cane, Bundaberg's youth often get hit with the "bright light syndrome”.

They get drawn into the city, leaving a farming community comprised mainly of older blokes.

But a group of young Bundy farmers are bucking the trend: they are staying on the land to secure Australia's food future.

This week they gathered to swap tips and meet new mates as part of the Next Gen network.

"The industry is faced with a real problem because of its ageing population,” grower Gavin Lerch said.

"I started 20 years ago as a very young farmer and it was very difficult for me.

"That's why I'm so passionate about this group, I saw the need for it.

"We need to support our younger generation as best we can so the industry can remain strong.”

Next Gen has been around for six years and is an initiative of the Australian Cane Farming Association.

Mr Lerch said it wasn't exclusively for young farmers.

While it is still male-

dominated, many partners attend and Sugar Research Australia's Angela Marshall is part of the local branch.

"Anyone willing to learn and willing to share information is welcome to attend,” Mr Lerch said.

Next month Next Gen will meet in Mackay for members across Queensland. For more head to nextgenfarmer.com.



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