This project was developed following a series of poor or challenging seasons, from 2010 to 2015, resulting in many eastern wheatbelt farm businesses experience financial distress. Following on from the National Drought Pilot Program and WA’s Farm Business workshops, this project aimed to build on risk mitigation strategies for farm businesses. Over the last four years the project has worked closely with growers, agribusiness, researchers and industry on a journey aimed at helping build resilient farm businesses with the capacity to adapt to a varying climate and varying terms of trade, particularly for farmers in the eastern wheatbelt. This project has achieved a lot in its four years.
Four key highlights include:
1. A published review of “How farmers make decisions” which includes industry data and survey results from farmers in this region and assisted with the development of the decision tool myFarmsmart ® .
2. The Sheep Industry Forum in 2018 which brought national and internationally renowned researchers and industry specialists to Merredin and a great opportunity for local growers and agribusiness to network with and learn from.
3. The study tour to the Middle East in 2019 where 10 eastern wheatbelt delegates experienced a fantastic opportunity to visit three key market countries, Qatar, Jordan and the UAE over a week. With the critical assistance of MLA, the group visited feedlots, abattoirs, modern wet markets, butchers and hypermarkets and even enjoyed the company (and an amazing three course meal!) of the Ambassador of Australia to Jordan, Miles Armitage, at his residence in Amman. As guests to their countries, Australia’s customers and trade partners were extremely hospitable but certainly honest with their views on their relationship with Australia, and their desire for continued and consistent Australian sheep products into their supply chains.
4. myFarmsmart ® , 2020 release. The development of a whole farm business decision tool that gives farm businesses the opportunity to analyse their own data using a user-friendly web based application with the ability to create scenarios and ask the ‘what if’ questions of your business and farming system. Bespoke analysis that considers localised rainfall and pasture growth rate data, the users’ soils, rotations, crop yields, sheep structure, input costs and finances. It allows the user to understand how changes in the production system impacts the farm business financial position. It can be used both tactically within a season and strategically for structural change or investment decisions. It is now commercially available at myFarmsmart Give it a try or contact Lucy Anderton for further information, firstname.lastname@example.org or 0448 014 167.
The project had 137 individual farmers and industry representatives attend project specific events or involvement in focus groups or attend the study tour. There were many speaking engagements by Project Manager, Tanya Kilminster, and Project Consultant and tool developer, Lucy Anderton, with over 650 people from around WA hearing about the project, the tool and the types of farm and industry analysis that can be achieved using it or supply chain information and recommendations.
The final report is due for release in the coming month. Some key findings include:?
- there is the potential to increase the value of sheep in the eastern wheatbelt by $37M, which could be increased even further with more improved feed base systems
- an additional $3M in profit and wages to the State economy
- there is a strong desire in the farming community to see an integration of tools and data, looking for systems that turn data into knowledge and decisions into profit
It was great to finalise the project with a celebration and myFarmsmart® demonstration held at DPIRD Merredin, on the evening of the 25th August. With some 35 guests including committee and general members of MADFIG, Steering Committee members to the project, local growers and agribusiness that have been involved in the project and Livestock Industries Director from DPIRD, Dr Bruce Mullan. It was a wonderful evening and a great way to celebrate this successful DPIRD-MADFIG project.