WRITING down a plan for your business is never more important when there is more than one person involved. To help farmers recognize their goals and get on the same page, Dairy Australia developed ‘Our Farm, Our Plan’ with support from Gardiner Dairy Foundation and DairyNZ.

It’s designed to help farmers identify long term goals, improve business performance and manage volatility.

Stacey and Erwin Reesink recently completed the program. While they were doing the course, they went into a partnership with Erwin’s dad Johan and step-mum Anneke on a 416-acre farm in Fish Creek, milking 400 cows.

Erwin’s family moved to Australia from Holland in 2012, and Stacey and her family moved from New Zealand in 2012. She’s originally from South Africa and has had a long-standing passion for farming, having relief milked while in school.

They started share farming in 2014 in Wattle Bank and recently purchased their farm in Fish Creek with Johan and Anneke. They live on farm with their three children.

Designed for Australian dairy farmers, Our Farm, Our Plan helps put their big ideas down on paper and get everyone on the farm on the same page.

“We already had what we wanted in the back of our minds and then putting it into writing and thinking about it really pushed it to the next level,” Stacey said.

“The course is also really great to get couples or various other people in the business to communicate about what they want or envisage the business looking like in the future. You come up with a plan or goal everyone can work towards together. It gets people on the same page,” she said.

When putting the plan down on a page, Stacey and Erwin focused on core ideas.

“Part of our plan was buying the farm. Trevor had offered the farm to us prior to the course starting; it was the how we could achieve it was what we had to work out.”

Using a simple ‘Now, Where, How, Review’ planning process and providing one-on-one support for farmers over two years, it assists with putting the plan into action.

“Everything was decided during the course. We had a rough plan and then Matt and the course helped us to knuckled down into the how and made it happen,” she said.

The program is delivered either as an in person workshop over three sessions or via Zoom over six workshops and includes 1:1 sessions with a trained consultant/facilitator.

“The course itself was very well laid out and I liked the fact that they sent out the folders. It made it heaps easier than us having to print it off,” she said. “I really liked the process where you had to draw your vision of what you had to achieve. It actually made you think of what you want your life to look like. I think very often as farmers we get very bogged down with day-to-day stuff. You forget what is the big picture. Why are you farming? What is your end goal?”

Our Farm, Our Plan can be completed at any time in a farmer’s career.

“The course is great for anyone at any stage of their business. If farmers want to take a step back, the course helps to come up with a “smart” goal plan on how to step back. It’s also very good for young people just coming into farming. Do they want to own a farm at the end? Or do they want to share farm and invest in houses?”

Part of Stacey’s positive experience was working in a group and hearing about other farmer’s experiences: “We had family operations planning for the next step, but we also had other people moving into a more intense business structure or planning on stepping back.”

Stacey’s advice to other farmers is to get out there and take advantage of other people’s advice and the available support.

“Talk to older farmers. They have so much wisdom and very often we try and do things on our own. But there is a lot of wisdom they can pass on. And be involved in a discussion group or anything to get you off farm and to meet people.”

GippsDairy is running a number of Our Farm, Our Plan programs over the next six months. Contact the team on 5624 3900 to book; and visit dairyaustralia.com.au/ofop.