A FULL house at GippsDairy’s latest Stepping Up Stepping Back workshop looked at the “marriage of convenience” that is a share-farming relationship.
Held at Federation Training’s Leongatha campus, Thursday’s session saw 25 farmers looking at ways to successfully form a share-farming relationship.
GippsDairy workforce coordinator Leah Maslen said the people who attended were looking to find the best way forward for the next stage of their careers.
Leah, whose family dairy farm is run day-to-day by share-farmers, said there is a lot to learn about developing a successful share-farming arrangement.
“It’s not unlike a marriage, where you have to find the right person and work hard to make sure both sides are happy with the way things are going,” she said.
“Days like this can point people in the right direction about what they should bring to a share-farming arrangement and even what they should be staying out of.”
Facilitator John Mulvany took participants through the whole gamut of share-farming arrangements that he has come across in his farm consulting work.
He told the farmers that some surprisingly simple things can put pressure on a share-farming relationship if they are not considered at the beginning.
Having the “hands-on” farmer bring his or her own machinery, he said, is an example of where needless stress can be avoided.
“If there’s two areas of share-farming that cause problems, it’s calf rearing and plant and equipment,” he said.
“You hear the farmers say ‘God, he’s hard on that clutch’, which is why it can be good for share-farmers to own their own tractor.”
Meeniyan dairy farmer Chris Kelly, who attended with his son Rob and daughter-in-law Corinne, said he knew first-hand how badly planned succession can lead to poor outcomes.
“I’ve been through it all before with my parents and we didn’t get a good result from that,” he said.
“I’m determined not to pass that legacy on to my kids.”
The Kellys’ current inter-generational share-farming arrangement is “doing the job”, according to Chris, but needed fine-tuning to ensure a good result for all parties.
“From a business point of view, everything we do in this area, we have to do it together,” he said.
“Today, we got a lot of good advice and feedback in the group sessions and John Mulvany was an excellent facilitator.”
Stepping Up Stepping Back is funded through the dairy service levy.
A further session on planning for succession and retirement, as well as share-farming and leasing workshops, will be held in coming months, with dates to be announced.
A step in the right direction