Although just 16 years old, Hayley Doohan has made a point of learning about water policy.
The daughter of Finley dairy farmer Bart Doohan, she has seen first hand the effects decisions made in parliament have on-farm.
It is this history and concern that prompted her to travel to Melbourne on Friday to protest against further water recovery under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
She is, as one of the other protesters put it, a rare breed in the farming industry.
She said many of her peers, even those raised on a farm, were looking away from the industry towards more certain or stable employment.
‘‘A lot of our friends have gone away ... parents are sending kids away to boarding school or they’re leaving for more opportunity,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s happened before, at the Millennium drought, but this time it’s going to be worse. They won’t be coming back.’’
With a passion for the agriculture industry, Hayley hopes to move into the field in the future.
Yet she said she was worried the Murray-Darling Basin Plan would hinder her future.
‘‘(Politicians) have got to realise that we grow a lot of food that goes to Melbourne, Sydney, overseas. The only time they’re going to realise what’s happening is when there’s no food,’’ she said.
‘‘They’re all about ‘Australians supporting Australians’ — but they’re kicking us in the guts.
‘‘They’re overlooking the basics.’’
Hayley’s father Bart said things were becoming more difficult.
A passionate dairy farmer, Mr Doohan converted the business to organic in the hope of securing their future.
Yet with no water allocation the Finley farmers can’t grow their own feed and are facing mounting pressure to keep going.
Their farm is brown, according to Mr Doohan, and they have already drastically destocked their herd by more than two thirds.
‘‘It’s her future too,’’ he said.
‘‘Why would you let them do it?’’