Small Farms / Hobby Farms -
Good or bad for the country
New farmers on small farms face put-downs as 'hobby farmers', but they have lots to offer:
They bring new enthusiasm and energy for farming. They can also bring other useful skills to the farm and the community.
New small businesses of any type are a good source of innovation. Microsoft was started by two blokes in a garage!
Weekend farmers and retirees are not dependent on farming for a living. They can try new options which would be a risk
for commercial farmers.
New capital means new investment for modern methods - new fencing, smaller paddocks, rotational grazing, perennial pasture,
environment protection, native revegetation, farm forests. It's good for the land, and good for local business.
New farmers face a steep learning curve.
Basic information is hard to find. Farming is a complex industry, and farmers are assumed to know the basics. Asking "stupid"
questions can make a newcomer look and feel like a fool.
Unbiased suggestions can also be hard to come by, so it's easy to make bad choices. From breed societies to agricultural consultants,
advice may not work well in practice, and both the advice and using it can be expensive.
Whether it's a business or a lifestyle choice, it can be difficult to strike a balance between costs and returns, enjoyment
and hard slog.
New farmers who make mistakes can do a lot of damage - to the land, their stock, their bank balances, and their happiness. Good
information is a big help.
Government-sponsored information is available on the Internet websites of the Departments of Agriculture for every state.
Another state's website can sometimes be more helpful than your own.
The Meat and Livestock Australia website is comprehensive, and they publish useful brochures and a regular magazine.
As soon as you sell sheep in a meat market, you will pay a small levy and automatically become a member of the MLA.
You don't automatically join Australian Wool Innovation if you have shedding sheep and don't sell wool. However
AWI's publications contain useful information about pasture and other 'sheep' topics, and it can be worth joining their mailing list.
Our own website aims to give you the issues and the words that will help you to search these official sites and the Internet generally.
MLA and AWI Publications