Fiona Taylor is a woman on a mission: she wants young people to feel they have a future on the land.
A rural financial counsellor based in Yass and Queanbeyan-Palerang, Fiona has become a recipient of the inaugural AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant.
She secured the grant for a proposal she knows works because she saw it change the lives of young people in her native Zimbabwe.
“I just want to give young people a pathway into the agricultural industry,” she said.
Through her Rural New Generation Scheme, she hopes to help young farmers by breaking down the biggest barrier of them all, “raising equity to purchase their own property”.
“It’s something I’m very passionate about,” she said, “because I’ve seen it can work”.
“The idea is to lease the property so that while you’re paying rent on it, you’re developing a relationship with the bank you’re dealing with and with the owner of the property, who may even become your mentor.
“Banks always want security, but usually they don’t see that security with young people. But if you can develop a relationship with a bank, they can see you’re serious about what you’re doing, now and into the future.
“Often when young people want to make a go of it on the land, they have no security, maybe just a car or a few cows.
“What I would like this project to do is to encourage a lot of young people to do something they didn’t think they could do.”
Fiona said her scheme was based on a tenant-type farming situation. This allows the young farmers to gain invaluable experience working on the land, at the same time showing the people who can make decisions about their future that they can run a viable farming enterprise.
She said the scheme had not only worked in Zimbabwe, but also throughout the United Kingdom.
The grant will allow her to lay the groundwork for the program and hopefully make it a reality.
As a rural financial counsellor for about 10 years, Fiona is well aware of the problems facing people on the land.
“The thing I see the most with people on the land is resilience,” she said.
“I’ve seen people hammered by the drought, by bushfires, yet their resilience is remarkable.
“Succession has also been an issue for many rural families, that’s why this proposal to get more young people on the land and to keep the ones who are already here, is so important.”
Fiona is one of seven women who were announced this week as the first recipients of the grant.
Managing director of AgriFutures Australia, John Harvey, said the program was developed to foster growth and development in women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses and communities.
“The new AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant provides a vehicle for women across the nation to realise their potential,” he said.
“It will nurture the development of new and exciting ideas, and we encourage the successful applicants to apply for the AgriFutures Rural Women’s award in the future.”
All seven women will receive a learning and development bursary up to $7000 for professional development so they can bring their ideas, cause or vision to life.
More information about the Acceleration Grant is available from the website