Farmers will lobby for agriculture to become part of school curriculums amid fears Australia will let slip the golden opportunity created by emerging Asian markets.
The National Farmers Federation said education, free trade agreements, foreign investment and spending on infrastructure were identified as priorities in the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture - the first industry-developed plan for the future of the country's farm sector.
NFF president Jock Laurie, who released the blueprint in Canberra yesterday, said farmers needed to build closer ties with the wider community and a greater understanding of controversial issues such as live exports, environmental sustainability and food security.
"We need to educate a generation of kids about the industry. That might encourage kids who have no link to the industry to pursue careers in agriculture," Mr Laurie said.
"Wouldn't it be a shame if in 20 years time we looked back on lost opportunities not just through a lack of education but in other areas where we failed to challenge the status quo in agriculture."
The blueprint, drawn up by the NFF in conjunction with Westpac, Woolworths and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, received input from about 4000 people across the industry.
"It is an ambitious plan that identifies critical areas in which action must happen now to ensure we are well placed in the future," Mr Laurie said.
The blueprint warns that much of Australia's agricultural infrastructure is "ageing, damaged and inadequate" and highlights a 27 per cent drop in employment in the sector over the past 10 years.
Mr Laurie said the fact 300 farmers a month were leaving the land was of great concern and showed farmers needed to be able to make a profit to stop the exodus from the industry.
"Farmers shouldn't be expected to have very big investments while not getting returns or paid for the work they are putting in," he said.
The blueprint calls for greater investment in research and development to increase productivity and address issues like climate change.
"This is long overdue, with investment in rural R&D stagnating since the mid-1970s," Mr Laurie said.
"They (the blueprint participants) also wish to see upgrades in critical infrastructure and a reduction in red tape to help the sector remain competitive and the completion of key free trade agreements, like the Korean FTA, to secure our market access."
It is estimated completion of the Korean free trade agreement would open up an export market worth $1.6 billion a year.
The blueprint backs foreign investment, noting that "Australian investment alone is not sufficient for agriculture to grow and develop", but calls for greater transparency to address public concerns.We need to educate a generation of kids about the industry. "Jock Laurie
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