Meet our evokeAG. 2020 Future Young Leaders – Samuel Johnston
Meet Samuel “Sam” Johnston who can best be described as an agricultural enthusiast and young industry trailblazer who has one aim – to showcase where Aussie food and fibre comes from, who makes it and how it’s made. He has a strong rural background, born and bred west of Forbes, NSW. His passion is to link producers and consumers, regardless of where they live by promoting Australia’s agricultural industry. After finishing his Bachelor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Sydney, Sam commenced full time work as a rural property sales and marketing specialist based in Sydney. He’s a strong advocate for the agricultural sector and farmers. You just have to look at these efforts as Co-founder of the social media organisation and movement #ThankAFarmerForYourNextMeal. He was also named a 2019 Royal Agricultural Society of NSW Rural Achiever.
What are your future aspirations for the agricultural sector and/or the food industry?
I would like to play a pivotal role in bridging the divide between producer and consumer, city and bush. I believe as farmers, and people from the land we have a responsibility to work closely with our city cousins, family and consumers to show them exactly what goes on ‘on farm’. Once upon a time I would of agreed with the statement that “people in the city just don’t care” but as I have matured, and now spent relatively equal time in both the metropolitan and rural Australia I strongly believe now, more than ever, the consumer genuinely wants to hear and understand the full story behind our food and fibre. By providing easy to understand information about how their product gets from paddock to plate, field to fork or fibre to fashion we can help them understand the true value of our food and product. Ultimately, I think a transparent industry is a prosperous one and we need to encourage consumers to make informed purchasing decisions when they’re in the supermarket. We now have an opportunity to get on the front foot and showcase our world class agricultural practices and most importantly be proud of telling our story as its certainly one worth sharing.
What steps have you already taken to help achieve your aspirations outlined above?
I think that co-creating the social media based movement/campaign #ThankAFarmerForYourNextMeal was a game changer for me. Appearing on Instagram back in early 2014, at a period where the majority of talk on agriculture was negative, hit a niche and took advantage of an up and coming social media platform. Fast forward roughly five years and we now have a combined social media following of almost 95,000 people – now if two young blokes from the bush can achieve that, imagine what we could accomplish as a collective. An example of one of the initiatives that we have come up with along the way is the Phone A Farmer Day campaign – aimed at boosting a farmer’s spirits by taking a quick five minutes out of your day to “ask them how they’re going, telling them you’re thinking of them and letting them know that you hope it will rain soon too” in a tough, dry period within Australian agriculture. And then our #WhenIGrowUpIWantToBeAFarmer photo competition which was based around putting the spotlight on the younger generations, and Australia’s future farmers, whilst recognising their passion and highlighting how important these youngsters are for the future of the industry.
What is the number one activity you would like to do for the agricultural sector and/or the food industry?
To showcase and positively promote where Australian food and fibre comes from, who makes it and how it’s made and as a result help the consumer understand their true value. I would love to see a more transparent and competitive Australian agricultural sector and believe that so far, we have been able to create a globally recognised, clean, green industry for ourselves and its time that we took some recognition for it! If we can give the consumer a better insight into what processes are involved with getting their food and product from paddock to plate, field to fork or fibre to fashion, they will have a deepened understanding of the genuine worth of our produce. It is unrealistic to expect them to see the full value or ask them to pay more for Australian produce if they are oblivious to the extent of what time, effort and input costs have gone into delivering them that product.
I would like