Across the country, the next generation of farmers will have the opportunity to access financial literacy workshops designed to give young people a ‘leg up’ in financial management to help grow their family farming businesses.
The practical one-day Growing the Family Business seminars, will be rolled out across regional Australia over the next two years – with the aim to deliver the program, which is free of charge – to 2000 up-and-coming farmers by 2020.
Locally-run and delivered in key regional locations, each workshop will include sessions by local accountants and banking professionals, as well as real-life case studies presented by farmers in the region – covering topics including gross margin analysis, cash flow budgeting and interpreting financial statements, as well as identifying business opportunities and embarking on new business ventures. Up to 40 participants will be accepted at each workshop.
An initiative of Rabobank’s Client Councils – a group of the bank’s farming clients who meet to discuss issues and implement initiatives to contribute to the sustainability of rural communities – the program has been designed to give the next generation of farmers access to financial education in the communities in which they live.
Rabobank Client Council chair for southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, Sally Rigney said the Client Councils had “identified a void where we had all these amazing young people coming back home but not with the skills and confidence to fulfill their dreams”.
“So we developed the program to provide young famers with the basic concepts of good business. To give them the framework to have the right conversations, with the right people, to make things happen,” she said.
A series of initial pilot workshops, beginning in 2016, has already seen more than 360 farmers undertake the financial literacy program in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.
With the program now rolling out on a national scale, the first seminar will be held in Clermont in central Queensland later this month, with workshops also planned for Katherine in the Northern Territory and the Riverina region in southern New South Wales.
Rabobank’s national coordinator for the Growing the Family Business program Justin Harrison said the sessions were “very hands on”, with participants – generally aged between 18 to 25 – taken through practical steps to understand the financial position of their own farming business.
“The sessions will look at what makes up a balance sheet, profit and loss statement and an introduction to triple bottom line accounting,” Mr Harrison said, “and more importantly, how to interpret these reports to make calculated business decisions. This then feeds into sessions on how banks assess a loan and the importance of developing a business plan.”
Drawing on the expertise of local farmers, Mr Harrison said, the workshops would also give participants the opportunity to hear candidly from those who have looked outside the square for opportunities and the lessons they have learnt along the way.
“Nothing rings quite as true as hearing from someone within your industry, who can talk about how they have got to where they are now, but perhaps more importantly, the traps and pitfalls they have experienced along the way,” he said.
Funded by Rabobank’s Client Councils, the workshops are open to clients and non-clients of Rabobank and there is no cost for farmers to attend. In lieu of payment, a donation to the Country Women’s Association is welcome, with local branches catering the morning tea and lunch.
For more information and to apply for upcoming workshops visit www.rabobank.com.au/about-rabobank/client-councils/. Or to enquire about running a workshop in the local region, please contact the nearest Rabobank branch or national program coordinator Justin Harrison on 0400 282 604.