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Did it Fall or Was it Pushed?  Posted 09/05/2010 by Bo Narrow

Back in the 1970’s and into the 1980’s there were active Rural Youth and Junior Farmer groups around the world. Australia had a stack of exchangee programs with the similar organisations in the USA, UK and New Zealand.

Then in the late 1980’s we were led to believe that it was all coming to an end in Australia as it was in the rest of the World. Time to put it away as a relic of the past. Today’s youth in rural areas were just not interested in local “clubs” or too busy getting a better education. The work of the clubs was now being handled just as well by rural high schools.  Government support dried up. Somewhere along the way about 4 years ago the peak Australian body the Australian Rural Youth Council ARY was quietly disbanded.

Time for us old ex-members to have an occasional reunion and talk about the glories of the long-gone past.

Oh yeah!!!!!  Hang on a second mate. Maybe what the old type of organisation needed was a transfusion or a transplant rather than a funeral.

A look at the page A New JF - RY in 2010 page  on the Reunion website (see the link at the foot of this comment) tells the real story. Throughout the world all the other countries just moved forward and updated their way of working to keep in touch, to find out what rural youth in this century wanted and then give it to them.  

In the rest of the world:

* Reduced government funding was being supplemented by growing support from business and commerce who recognised a ready marketplace when it was presented to them on a website in a 2000 format.

* As organisations became less tied to Government support they were able to play a more direct role as the voice of young farmers, telling governments what young farmers in this century needed and wanted (and getting the ear of the government)

* Newsletters and magazines became websites with club activity photos posted on the page the day they were taken.

* Membership application forms were replaced with free instant on-line registration. Membership went up.

* New on-line activities were added to attract members, things like on-line discount buying for members, on-line 24 hour insurance (with special rates for members), new contests, even pages for lonely members looking for friends.

* On-line advertising of local group or club events.

* Special 4-H and Rural Youth groups on Facebook.

* Employment advertising. Job vacancies for members on-line.

* Extended training and study programs for members

* Age limits were broadened to include thirty plus members who wanted to stay on, often as leaders.

* And all this was all added to the other old favourites, contests, field days, social events, weekends, exchangee programs,    training, public speaking, except that now everyone could see it happening on line every day.

So overseas the rural youth organisations kept on growing. In Europe today there are over a million members. Even newly formed nations like Slovakia have their own Rural Youth organisation. Great Britain and New Zealand Young Farmers are still as strong as ever but a lot more up to date. USA and Canada 4-H are going strong in 2010 as are exchangee programs between these organisations.   

There is a world-wide farm exchangee program the International Agricultural Exchange Organisation IAEA

But wait there’s more.  There has been at least one World Congress of Young Farmers organised by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers IFAP in 2007. Two delegates from Queensland attended but they couldn't speak on behalf of a Queensland Rural Youth organisation because there wasn’t one.

And while all this was going on where was Australia? Where was Queensland?

Missing in action. Stuck in inaction.

Tasmania and West Australia still have small but active Rural Youth groups. NSW has a group the Young Farmers Council as a sub-committee of the NSW Farmers Association. Queensland until now has had nothing.


There is no longer a Australian peak organisation to talk to governments or communities on behalf of all Australian members and member states.

Maybe, before answering the question “What are we Going to Do About this now?”, there is another question that could be asked.  

How this could have happened?

Did the Rural Youth Organisation in Australia just collapse quietly or was it pushed?

Bo Narrow Rides Again!

Editor’s note:

Like to see details of what is going on in the rest of the RY world in 2010? Click here for “A New JF-RY in 2010 page”

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After you have added your comment it will be sent to us as an an e-mail and we will post it here. (Subject to standard terms and conditions as explained on the Send your Comment page)

Comment     Pushed I’d say    Posted 10/05/20010 by “Cynical Ex -RY “

In the late 1980s throughout Australia (and with the close of the Bjelke Petersen regime in Queensland) all Australian governments regardless of political persuasions were looking for ways to cut back on taxpayer funding for organisations like Rural Youth.

It’s understandable that they would have much preferred those organisations to lie down and die quietly “due to lack of interest” rather than have them alive and complaining about loss of funding.

Congratulations on getting another RY reunion organized –these things do not just happen

Please put in an apology from me – wish I was able to get there

I am heading out to Georgetown for the weekend – will call in on the Forsayth Turnout today

Regards Rhonda

Cr Rhonda Sorensen MBA

Tablelands Regional Council

Malanda Office

P/F 0740 434905

M 0437547104


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