American agrarian puts succession farming in spotlight again

INNOVATIVE American agrarian Joel Salatin will be visiting Bendigo for the fourth time to deliver a seminar on succession farming later this month.

The self-proclaimed “divisive” farmer, lecturer and author will be brought to Australia with his son Daniel by Lisa Heenan and Darren Doherty for an all-day lecture in Bendigo and an evening question and answer session.

Darren will host a three-day field trip of central and northern Victoria which will take in Leitchville, Graytown and Tooborac. 

Joel has inspired several central and northern Victorian farmers on his previous trips such as Tooborac’s Belinda and Jason Hagan, whose focus on regenerative farming on their piggery led to Belinda being named the 2012 Farming Woman of the Year.

Joel said it was the first time he had developed the topic of succession farming into a full day workshop.

He said getting new farmers into farming was one of the biggest issues facing the agriculture industry.

“What we’ve desperately got to do is create generational fluidity,” he said.

“Farming is an economic sector that makes it difficult to get in, while the old people can’t get out.

“The old people feel stuck because they can’t get out, and the young people feel stuck because they can’t get in.

“What we need to do is encourage elderly farmers to open their hearts to the young people who are interested and teach the young people techniques to get into farming without the capital investment.”

Another local to be inspired by Salatin’s teachings is Cohuna farmer Eliot Fehring, who is moving a portable bus full of chickens over Michael and Nicci Hore’s dairy farm.

The chickens scratch up the surface of the land, regenerating the surface and eating the bugs out of cow patties.

This method is straight from Salatin’s schoolbook.

“If the infrastructure behind your farming becomes portable you don’t need to own the land, all you have to do is have access to it; you are a turtle who has his home on his back,” he said. 

“This creates a tremendous amount of opportunity for young people.

“The beauty of that is the current land owner doesn’t have to sacrifice income to bring on another person or another enterprise. 

“The new enterprise simply adds an entire salary opportunity that compliments the current mothership.”

Darren Doherty said interest in Salatin’s workshops in the region had increased every time he’s come to Australia.

“I think the rise of the local food movement has increased his interest,” he said.

“We’ve seen a real popularity rise.”

He said his lectures appealed to a variety of people.

“In Australia we’ve had close to 5000 people come and see him, out of that 5000, half are local food consumers and interested foodies and the other half are agriculturalists and farmers who want to change their terms of trade,” he said. 

“It’s really intriguing. He excites both consumers and producers.”

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