MANY Victorian farmers are discouraging their children from following them on to the land.
Marketing of agriculture as a career needs to be promoted more heavily at schools and also at home, a youth forum was told at Parliament House this week.
About 50 young farmers gathered from around the state in the Legislative Assembly chamber to advise the Government on how to renew interest in farming.
Former Victorian Farmers Federation president Paul Weller, now an MP and chairman of the Parliament's Rural and Regional Committee, has been charged with finding solutions to the problem.
Mr Weller said the long drought had broken the spirits of many farmers.
"As we travel around the state we have the young people telling us it is their parents saying not to pursue agriculture."
Mr Weller said there was not going to be any simple solution to the problem of replacing an ageing workforce.
Mr Weller's committee has spent months gathering submissions and visited 17 regional centres in the past six months. This week's youth forum was the final information gathering exercise before making recommendations to government in May.
The forum was told there had been a dramatic decline of young farmers entering agriculture since the 1970s. Much time was spent discussing the promotion of agriculture in schools and in the wider community.
A suggestion was made to form an industry action group to attract more positive media coverage.
Caitlin Scholfield said agriculture needed to be taught in schools right from primary.
Prue Addlem said careers teachers needed to be educated as well about the professional opportunities available in farming.
The forum also discussed farm succession, farm financing and farmers as employers.