Fiona Taylor, a rural financial counsellor based in Yass and Queanbeyan-Palerang has become a recipient of the inaugural AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant.

The grant is a new AgriFutures Australia program, developed to foster growth and development in women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses, and communities.

“We are thrilled to be offering these seven rural women the leadership and development opportunities they need to make real and tangible impacts in their industries and communities,” Managing Director of AgriFutures Australia John Harvey said.

Each of the seven grant recipients will be granted a learning and development bursary of up to $7,000 for professional development to enable them to bring their idea, cause, or vision to life.

Fiona Taylor works part-time as a Rural Financial Counsellor and is a mentor for the Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring Program.

Her idea, the ‘Rural New Generation Scheme’ will help many young farmers by breaking down the greatest barrier of all, raising equity to purchase their own property.

The scheme will operate on a tenant-type farming situation, to ensure new entrants can build up valuable experience whilst establishing themselves and proving their ability to operate a viable farming business, eventuating to purchase the property with their own funding.

Working successfully in other countries, Zimbabwe Tobacco Association-Tenant Farming Scheme, Scottish Tenant Farming Scheme and Tenant Farmers Association UK – Fiona hopes to support the future generations in Australian agriculture.

Fiona was glad to receive the grant and is passionate about agriculture after owning her own property and working in the industry.

“It’s a good thing which is giving us that extra money to get coaching and upselling us,” she said.

Fiona has been a rural financial counsellor for nearly 10 years in different areas and explained that she offers a confidential service to help farmers in financial hardship.

“We help them with national disasters and try and promote their business to help them with business plans and just a way forward.”

She moved to Australia from Zimbabwe 20 years ago and said she thought this scheme would work really well.

“What I saw was this gap that an older generation would like to pass on their property to someone else, and none of their family wants to take it up,” she said. “Then there’s an opportunity for them to leave it using the scheme.”

“Young people have come to me saying, ‘Fiona we want to get into farming, how do we do it?’ but those are people who haven’t got [farms] in their family.”

Applications for the 2023 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Acceleration Grant will open in September 2022.

By Brianna O’Rourke