Sheep Farm

Attracting and retaining young people in farming and agriculture

Jun 1, 2022 / 2 minutes read

Our Business Development lead Ashley Burdon has recently presented the Business Planning section at Rabobank’s Client Council event Ag Pathways 2022.

So what is Ag Pathway’s and what is Rabobank’s client council?

Rabobank Client Councils are a diverse group of Rabobank clients that meet regularly to discuss industry and community matters. They also provide feedback on the bank’s role as an agribusiness lender. 

Rabobank’s Client Councils identify challenges in our rural communities and work together with other rural stakeholders to develop initiatives to tackle these challenges. The lower south island client council developed Ag Pathways Network in 2015 to help overcome the challenges of attracting skilled young people into lifelong careers in agriculture.

The council has run subsequent successful Ag Pathways networks each year and the client council is considering taking the initiative nationwide. Ag Pathways involves young farmers applying for a place and spending two intensive days developing and learning skills and concepts all aimed at advancing their agricultural careers and building networks.

The format of the event involves the young farmers being taken through several sessions supported by the council members, Rabobank staff and external subject matter experts.

These sessions provide the opportunity for the young farmers to improve their skills and experience and provide a mentoring opportunity from the established council members who are successful farmers in their own right.

The Ag Pathways programme covers three key themes:

  1. Managing people
  2. Managing business
  3. Risk management

Over the two days, the participants cover a wide array of topics including communication styles, people, teams and leadership, business planning, succession and farm ownership options, environment and compliance and financial skills.

Each year one of the most popular segments of the course is the “War Stories” section.  The client council invites 2-3 farmers to share their farming journey with the participants.  They share their highs and lows, mistakes and learnings.  It is a great way for participants to learn about what is possible from farmers who have been there and done it.

Oh, and the participants also get a meal and a drink or two on the bank!

Over the past 3-4 years Ash has run the business planning component of this event and has focused the participants on being clear on three key areas:

  1. Purpose of being in the game they are in. Understanding why they are in their industry and business. 
  2. Having a vision of where they want to go and what they are trying to achieve.
  3. Being clear on the values that are important to them and what they should be considering when looking at opportunities and potential business partners or employment opportunities.

The programme has a strong call to action and Ash is tasked with sending all of the participants away with some clear action points to move them forward with their plans and career.

The participants are invited back and hosted by the bank to share their progress and how they have progressed the learnings and actions 2 to 3 months after the course.  This is all about providing an opportunity to re-connect with their network and celebrate their successes.

McIntyre Dick is proud to be associated with this programme and to be helping young farmers who are starting out in their careers. We believe Ag Pathways is a great initiative.

If you would like to know more about this programme, how we can help you with your business planning, or if you know of any aspiring young farmers that might benefit from participating in Ag Pathways reach out to us and we would be happy to pass their information on.


Ashley Burdon


A born and bred Southlander, Ash has worked in New Zealand’s rural sector since 1999. He joined the firm in 2010 and became a Principal in 2017.

  • Tax
Next Up

Airbnb GST changes from 1 April 2024

Feb 28, 2024 / 2 minutes read