Time to start thinking about the future

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The On-Farm Drought Resilience grants are open and accepting applications until 28th of August 2020 or until all funding is committed. Apply soon to avoid missing out. 

The Rural Finance Corporation, along with Agriculture Victoria, have recently announced the expansion of the On-Farm Drought Resilience Grant Program. Farmers in Far North West of Victoria (Millewa), Wellington and East Gippsland Shires, and the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District can now access up to $10,000 of support, including $5,000 towards business advice. While eligible farmers need to make a contribution towards infrastructure, there is no contribution required towards business advice. 

As we welcome rain and the memory of several years of drought begins to fade, it’s tempting to get on with life, work hard and presume everything will be okay. While hard work is unavoidable in farming, many farmers say the decisions they make working on the business, analysing financial performance and planning, are just as important. 

A return to normality is a good opportunity to reflect, and to think about your future in farming. It’s a good time to review a strategic plan for the business. A strategic plan should reflect the long term personal and financial goals of the people involved, and show how the business can work towards achieving these. 

A succession plan fits firmly within the strategic plan. If there is a desire for the business to continue to the next generation, the strategic plan should reflect this. Often people avoid addressing this part of the business because they don’t feel they have the skills needed to make a plan for succession. In this scenario taking the opportunity to seek some independent advice on the future of the business is a good first step. 

The chances of achieving an effective business or succession plan are increased by engaging outside help. In the same way as engaging an agronomist for a cropping or pastures program, engaging an experienced and independent advisor can help you and your family to navigate through the sometimes emotional, complex and uncertain pathway towards a desired future outcome of the family farm. Too often the default position is for one member of the older generation to seek advice from the accountant or lawyer. A single expert approach is not likely to be as successful as using a team which includes a succession expert, and the lawyer and accountant. 

Traditionally these plans have been developed sitting around the kitchen table. However, with many people now feeling more comfortable using video conferencing tools such as Zoom, advisors can be miles away and still work effectively with the farming family. In fact, it’s becoming a more time and cost effective way to do business, and gives farmers access to advisors away from their local district.  

The areas of the business where the $5000 business grant can be used include:

  • Prepare, review or update strategic business plans
  • Undertake a whole farm plan
  • Undertake business risk assessment
  • Engage agronomic services for the purpose of converting the farm to be more drought resilient (e.g. pasture restoration or improvement plan, feed budgets for drought, managing soils)
  • Undertake business benchmarking
  • Undertake financial management assessment and planning
  • Undertake succession planning

 

Further Information

For more information and to apply, farmers should contact Rural Finance on 1800 260 425 or visit www.ruralfinance.com.au 

For further information on support available, farmers should contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186, email drought.support@agriculture.vic.gov.au or visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/dryseasons

Read our article on Agriculture Victoria’s Drought Response.

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