Alex Davies and his fellow Rabobank Farm Manager Program attendees.

 

FUTURE Farmers Network member Alex Davies has come back across the ditch with a paddock full of new ideas for the family farm.

And he can’t wait to start implementing them, as soon as the season gives everyone in northern NSW a bit of a break. 

The Coonabarabran sheep, wool and grain producer won a fully funded scholarship to the Rabobank Farm Managers Program, held in Christchurch, New Zealand last month. 

He said while everyone there would have got something different from the varied program, his key take home was “making the most of what you have, on a more dollars per hectare basis”. 

“There was no one there that had a similar set up to me, everyone was really different, so it opened your eyes a bit to what you can do with the country,” Alex said. 

“You see someone doing it one way and you might be doing it very different, but at the end of the day it is another perspective – and it was great to get those other perspectives. 

“We have country that is not as productive as it could be, the plan is to get stuck into that and maximise return.” 

Alex was able to attend the renowned business management program because of the support of the Rabobank Client Council Southern Queensland and Northern NSW. 

He describes the course as the best thing he has ever done for his career, and he is still talking to his fellow attendees and farming peers daily. 

“I was pretty devastated when it was finished actually, I was just like a sponge soaking it all up,” he said. 

“I will now get more into the business planning side of the operation – the business planning topic was really informative, getting into the office side of things is a big one that I want to get into.”  

The presentation that stuck with Alex the most was from a New Zealand dairy farmer who had previously attended the course and was using new initiatives in staff management. 

“I was impressed with the way he had his farm structured, he didn’t have any land when he started and now has thousands of cattle,” Alex said. 

“And the way he works his staff and really good people management staff – his staff all got a milking calf and they could breed them up and accumulate more and more each year – he had a really trust oriented workplace.” 

As well as people management, Alex was hoping to learn more about succession planning during the program, and he returned with one key message. 

“Get started as soon as possible. The longer it drags out the more difficult it will get.” 

The program was intensive, with 10 hour daily sessions and then an after-dinner group project, but Alex did get time to do some exploring after the course, touring local farms with new friends made during the week.