Community & Business

4 April, 2024

Financial workshop valuable to producers

PRIMARY producers in the region were given a valuable opportunity to enhance their financial skills by attending a highly informative and insightful workshop held in Atherton last week.

By Brigitte Daley

Pete Davis, Karin Campbell, Mark Gallagher (Rabobank Client Council member), Wessels Rust, Tony Hudson (Hudson Facilitation director), Clare Wiess (Rural Manager Rabobank Atherton), Jenny Crema, Hayley Marano and Sharon Gattera.
Pete Davis, Karin Campbell, Mark Gallagher (Rabobank Client Council member), Wessels Rust, Tony Hudson (Hudson Facilitation director), Clare Wiess (Rural Manager Rabobank Atherton), Jenny Crema, Hayley Marano and Sharon Gattera.

Hosted by the Rabo Client Council of Northern Queensland & Northern Territory, it attracted 19 enthusiastic participants representing the beef, dairy, sugar cane, avocado, citrus, banana and timber milling industries.

The workshop was part of a series which is an initiative to help build strength and resilience into local business and communities.

Rabo Client Council member Mark Gallagher said Rabobank had the goal of sharing knowledge through the Financial Skills Workshop with 5000 participants across Australia and New Zealand by 2025.

“The workshop was an opportunity to get a closer understanding of how institutions such as banks operate and support the community on many levels,” Mark said.

Presented by Hudson Facilitation director Tony Hudson, the Financial Skills Workshop was focused on Gross Margins (GM) and Cash Flow Budgeting.

It was offered free of charge to participants and was not restricted to the bank’s clients.

Financial skills are crucial to producers and future producers.

The workshop provided the benefits of helping producers develop new skills to allow their businesses to remain financially strong and resilient as well as to enable them to position themselves to weather less than ideal times.

Participants gained a better understanding of their operation, proving advantageous to them when approaching financiers for any additional finance requirements or to fund a new initiative.

Generational family members attending these workshops have found the skills learnt to be indispensable when entering the financial side of the family business.

As well as being able to upskill and network, participants also crunched numbers completing practical exercises relating to Gross Margins (GM’s) as well as the preparation of an annual cash flow budget, learning invaluable skills which can be applied to their own businesses.

Mr Hudson said it is essential for producers to know what their variable costs are.

“If you don’t know your variable costs, it can be very difficult to manage your enterprise,” he said.

Gross margin analysis is a crucial step in planning and decision making in an agricultural business. Gross margins allow for different options to be analysed with the most profitable being able to be selected.

This can be by comparing enterprises - for example, it is it more profitable to grow sugar cane or an alternate crop, or by comparing options within the actual enterprise itself? Or another example, is it more profitable to sell weaners now or to retain them and sell as stores at a later date?

The workshop provided participants with the knowledge to explore the cash flow implications of different options within their business, while also being able to gauge their business's performance.

“Cash flow budgeting is the most common budgeting tool for Australian farmers and is very valuable to do,” Tony said.

“It is possibly the most underutilised tool. The biggest challenge farmers face today are declining terms of trade.

“This occurs when income plateaus and costs are increasing so producers have to do more with less.”

Tony believes that the key to improving both the profitability and sustainability of agricultural operations lies in producers having a thorough understanding of all production costs and business expenses.

“Budget for them and measure them,” he said.

“We have an enormous opportunity because we are clean and green and are producing in a politically stable country in an increasingly uncertain world.”

Banana and sugar cane producer Jenny Crema from Crema Bananas, Tully said she came to upskill herself on financial management.

“The workshop was valuable to attend,” she said.

“It allowed me to develop a greater focus on production year data, GM’S and cash flows and to use this information to make informed decisions.

Stud beef cattle producer Kirsty Hayes of AK Brahmans, Tolga said she attended the workshop to learn how to make the family’s farming operation more profitable.

“The workshop gave me a better and broader perspective of the financial side of my farming business.

“I would definitely recommend that primary producers attend this workshop.”


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