Talking up profitable farming

By Rodney Woods

About 100 farmers and agribusiness professionals heard from a range of speakers at the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Farm to Profit Farm Business Update at Mulwala last week.

Held on June 25, guest speakers Chris Warrick, Eric Nankivell, Kate Burke and Chris Minehan spoke on topics including the economic return and costing of storing grain on farm, farm business resilience, the pros and cons of buying compared to leasing land and a profit-first approach to precision agriculture.

Mr Warrick, from Primary Business, who manages GRDC’s grain storage project, discussed on-farm grain storage and said silo storage was the most flexible of the storage options.

‘‘I was talking about on-farm grain storage and we were looking at the principles of managing storage and selecting the appropriate storage for your business to enable that management and get the best economic return as well,’’ he said.

‘‘We looked at the comparisons of different types of storages — bags, sheds, bunkers and silos.

‘‘People jumped at what is the cheapest for obvious reasons but we looked at what was best suited to the grain we are storing and how long we are storing it for.

‘‘Silos certainly allow greater flexibility but come with a greater capital cost up front.’’

Farmanco Group director Eric Nankivell said land values for cropping farms had doubled in the past two years and provided options for those looking to buy more land.

‘‘A block that was worth $1.6million is now worth $3.2million and the question is, can you still afford that much?

‘‘I talked about the options that farmers have, like buying smaller blocks, leasing land or sharefarming.’’

Wagga Wagga farm business consultant Chris Minehan, who is the director of RMS, talked about the characteristics of a resilient farm business.

‘‘I talked about a sustainable productive production system which means a low cost system and then I talked about some of the attributes that more resilient businesses have in terms of having good cash flow and a cost structure that allow them to be low risk and profitable,’’ he said.

‘‘Then I finished off talking about some of the things individual business managers need to do to to improve their personal resilience.’’

GRDC northern grower relations manager Susan McDonnell explained why the business updates were so important.

‘‘Under our new five-year research, development and extension plan, our focus has changed from productivity to profitability, which is in keeping with how growers approach their business decisions, which are driven by profit rather than production,’’ Ms McDonnell said.

‘‘For this reason, the GRDC Farm Business Updates are one of our key investments that are run nationally every year.’’