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Big Walk discovers opportunity of youth & farming

Media Release
1 December 2009

The Big Walk to discover the opportunity of youth and farming

In a new initiative, Federated Farmers is right alongside adventurers Jamie Fitzgerald and Graeme Dingle’s bid to turnaround the country’s negative youth statistics.

The adventurer’s and their troupe of young New Zealanders set out last week on a three-month fundraising trip down the Te Araroa Trail, dubbed the ‘Big Walk’.

“This is a fantastic project that will expose some of our youth to not only the countries physical backbone, but also our economy’s backbone. The group will have plenty of chances to meet and do stuff on farms from Cape Reinga to the Bluff,” says Conor English, Federated Farmers CEO.

“Federated Farmers members are to open their gates up to the group, which is traversing the backbone of the country to raise awareness for the Foundation for Youth Development (FYD).

“Its important that our young people have a sense of belonging and that they make a contribution. They all have something to offer, but sometimes they just don’t realise it. By walking with Jamie, Graeme and their teams, as well as interacting with local farmers on the way, this project will hopefully widen their perspectives and give them that chance.

“Many of the young people who set off from Northland and Southland last week are between 16 and 18 years old. At that age, young people need to be made aware of the opportunities available to them in the workplace and importantly from our perspective, on the farm.

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“Giving our young people a purpose is critical to motivating and engaging with them. There are plenty of jobs available in the farming sector that open a range of career development opportunities up to young and upcoming New Zealanders.

“They need to be made aware, both in and outside of the classroom, that they can contribute and earn a good living from agriculture at a range of levels. There is a lot of opportunity in rural New Zealand for motivated young people.

“Skill shortages have left the farming sector in need of good quality employees who are critical to the success of our farm businesses. Employees, both skilled and unskilled, can take full advantage of the competitive wages offered in the agricultural sector.

“According to the last Federated Farmers Rabobank Remuneration Report, casual farm labourers’ wages increased by 13.5 percent last year, while tractor drivers’ wages shot up by more than 15 percent. The average annual income for a farm worker is also about $3,000 above the average New Zealand income.

“The Federation supports the Big Walk and its aim to turn around some of the country’s negative statics. We also hope it will promote the opportunities available in the farming sector to our young people. Often it’s a case of knowing what you can do, understand the positive contribution you can make and go for it. I hope that is what the youth on this “Big Walk” learn ”

“This is a new thing for Federated Farmers to get involved with but is consistent with the big picture view that the organisation takes of New Zealand’s success and our ability to farm for many generations to come. Mr English concluded.

Mr English is planning to join the walk later in December. The Big Walk will culminate in a large-scale event at Parliament, which will involve all participants of the Big Walk. For more information, please click here to visit the Big Walk website.


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