THE Yannathan Focus Farm open day is a chance to explore the on-farm developments and equity partnership (Redan Partners) between Evan Campbell, Noel and Ann Campbell and Dean and Bek Turner.
The open day, which will be held on Thursday, November 22 from 10.15am at 265 Thwaites Road, Yannathan, will discuss the Focus Farm goals including:
• Lifting production profitably, to 1kgMS per kg live weight
• Minimising imported feed and lifting pasture consumed from 7tDM/ha in 17/18 to 8tDM/ha in 18/19 and 9tDM/ha in 19/20
• Stay as a single seasonal calving herd with no induction
• Grow the equity in the business for the partners involved and ensure Redan is a financially stand-alone entity
• To investigate and assess capital investment options on their merits and make informed decisions for the business going forward.
While the farm performance will be fascinating to watch (they milk 390 cows on a milking area of 174 hectares), it’s fair to say that much of the interest in this Focus Farm will centre on the equity partnership, with farmers wondering if the Yannathan model could work for their farm business.
Some of the Yannathan Focus Farm participants have highlighted what they are trying to achieve over the next two years.
“I’d like to think we would be able to quite quickly increase pasture production on the farm, which will give good crop profitability.
“I’d also like to – probably in the second half of the year – look at the mechanism to allow for succession of dairy farms. I’m not talking about family success, I’m talking about dairy farms that are at the stage where people are due to retire, but they don’t know how to exit their farm.
“On this Focus Farm we are looking to change equity positions over time to allow for succession.
“Lots of time where farms are leased, it is a rundown farm. I’d like to think we can actually show that good quality farms can have a future post their current farms or operators.
“I’m quite passionate about the industry being successful. If the current farms are maintained, that is where we need to be.
“I’m quite concerned that the negativity at the moment might cause the industry to shrink to under eight billion litres, and you have to wonder if it is still an exporting industry if it gets to that.”
“We have a completely different business structure on the farm with the equity partnership and we had a bit of a business succession planning issue.
“I’d been off the farm for 10 years at uni and working in the oil and gas industry in Saudi Arabia. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do and when a girl who was working on the farm went on maternity leave, I thought I’d try it for six months.
“Dean, who was the other partner in the business, had been with Mum and Dad for 15 to 20 years, so there was hesitation with me coming back and maybe upsetting the apple cart.
“I worked for Dean for two or three years and I was reaching a point where I was wanting to grow in my responsibilities. The question then was ‘how do we all grow together?’
“The opportunity came to lease the farm across the road, which is the business of the Focus Farm and we have just finished our first year of that on a four-year lease with an option for another four years.
“With this equity partnership we all own cattle, Mum and Dad have all the machinery across the road which they are able to share. It’s a completely different business structure that is not very common in Gippsland.”
“In two years I’d like to see the portion of our business being more sustainable from an equity and farm perspective.
“The farm has so much upside and having the Focus Farm on board will hopefully help it reach that potential.
“I’d like to see the sustainability of that business fund all of our needs for the cost of the equity partnership.
“On a day-to-day basis, the equity partnership pays its way, but when you look at that surplus dividend, it probably doesn’t cover the outside costs that are not included in the equity partnership.
“The core business has been improving. The pasture increases in the past 12 months have been phenomenal and from a business point of view we have seen the difference already. So I think at the end of the Focus Farm we will be even better.
“What we wanted to get out of the Focus Farm was having access to those switched on farmers in the support group who can help us improve the business.
“Bek and I want to grow our assets and we are certainly doing that, but we want that business to be 100 per cent sustainable so we can keep moving forward on our other business.”