Industry News

Australian farmers are becoming increasingly proactive when it comes to succession planning, with close to 70 per cent reporting they are actively looking to incorporate the next generation into their business through transfer of assets or shared ownership, according to a recent survey commissioned by agribusiness specialist Rabobank. This is up from just over 60 per cent five years ago.
For larger-scale operators – those with annual turnover above $1 million – the interest in succession planning was even greater, with 87 per cent indicating they are looking to transfer assets to, or achieve shared ownership with, the next generation. This is an increase on the 73 per cent of larger-scale operators who indicated the same intention five years ago.
With succession planning regularly identified as one of the key issues facing family farming in Australia, Rabobank head of succession planning Rosemary Bartle said the increased willingness to plan for future farm succession was encouraging news for the sector.
“Our work with farming families suggests farming businesses with a well-developed plan and family members pulling in the same direction have the greatest opportunity to increase profitability and grow wealth, enabling the farm to provide for future generations,” Ms Bartle said. “And this bodes well for the agricultural sector, as in so many cases the most efficient business model is the family farm.”

The recent survey of 1000 Australian farmers – which formed part of Rabobank’s latest quarterly Rural Confidence Survey – found 69 per cent of farmers overall are actively planning to incorporate the next generation into their business.
“This compares with 61 per cent in mid-2014 when farmers were questioned on this topic previously,” Ms Bartle said.
The latest survey found 46 per cent of Australian farmers are looking to transfer the farm operations to the next generation as part of the succession planning process, while 23 per cent want to share ownership of the farm with the younger generation of family members. Just 19 per cent said they are intending to sell the farm and exit the industry.
Ms Bartle said this increasing trend to incorporate the younger generation into the farm business was one Rabobank had been witnessing over the past 17 years since the bank began offering specialist succession planning facilitation services. Over this time, Rabobank have facilitated 550 family farming businesses through the succession planning process.
“We are seeing a greater willingness of families to talk about the future,” she said. “This stems from a changing culture, with family members more likely to voice their issues and concerns, and understanding that communication is the critical component of successful succession. We are also seeing more children wanting to come home, with the increasing economic prosperity of the sector and the exciting development in technologies.”
Ms Bartle said with increasing competition for farming assets, it is important for families to sit down and discuss ways to accommodate what each member of the family wants to do.
“Those families that start the planning process early, and develop a clear understanding of what the family and business wish to achieve, generally have more options available to them,” she said.
In most cases too, Ms Bartle said, the “driver has to come from the asset-owning generation as they need to be invested in initiating change”, with the process aided by engaging an independent facilitator.
“The role of the facilitator is then to make sure all issues are laid out on the table, and everyone has equal say and is listened to, so the complexity of issues can be explored,” Ms Bartle said.
“Ultimately, however, the plan is decided on by the family. As facilitators, we just bring our experience to the meetings and provide guidance on the process and examples of how other families have tackled similar issues.”
When discussing options, Ms Bartle said, families may need to consider providing opportunities for additional family members to become involved in the business, farm expansion and ensuring parents are in a position to retire if they wish to do so, as well as providing for those children not directly involved in the farming business by arriving at a decision on “what is fair”.
“Achieving fair inheritance for all children is often one of the most difficult issues families face in the succession planning process,” she said. “Quite often parents prefer inheritance to be equal, however the desire for equal inheritance is mostly incompatible with the family’s desire to continue the family legacy by passing on the family farm intact and as a viable business.
“Of all the families we have assisted in succession planning over the past 17 years, only five per cent have arrived at a situation of equal inheritance, which means that for all but a few, families need to come to an agreement around what is ‘fair’ inheritance for all children.”
Ms Bartle said it was also important that the process involved the family’s accountant and solicitor to ensure the proposed plan was realistic from a financial perspective, and could be supported by appropriate legal structures.
“While it may take two to three meetings, and in some cases more, to discuss the options the family has available to them, they are essentially setting a strategy for the future of their family and their family business,” she said. “And while these conversations can be hard, and families often put the process off because of its complexity, families that remain honest about their personal and business goals manage the process well.”
Recognising the growing need for succession services in the farming sector, Ms Bartle said, Rabobank had further bolstered its succession planning team with the appointment of two facilitators, Christine Lensing and Gavin Whiteley – bringing the team to four.
“Christine and Gavin both have a strong association with agriculture,” Ms Bartle said.
“Christine’s family have strong farming roots in South Africa and she has spent much of her career working in rural areas in South Africa and also the US.
“With graduate and post-graduate qualifications in ag science and economics, Christine started out at the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa before embarking on a career in agricultural banking in areas of credit risk management, financial and industry analysis, and agricultural advisory services.”
Ms Bartle said Mr Whiteley also had a lifelong association with the land, having grown up on his family’s cropping, sheep and beef farms in central New South Wales.
“Now based in Bungendore in southern New South Wales, Gavin is still actively involved in one of his family’s properties,” she said. “And with qualifications from Orange Agricultural College and the University of New England, Gavin has worked in accounting, finance and business consulting and also held senior roles at a number of well-known corporate agribusinesses in the cropping, beef and poultry sectors.”
Ms Lensing, who is based in Melbourne, will be responsible for providing succession facilitation services across Victoria and Tasmania, while Mr Whiteley will cover New South Wales and Queensland, and Ms Bartle will facilitate succession for families in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.


Rabobank’s succession planning team (L-R) Christine Lensing, Kim Lee, Rosemary Bartle and Gavin Whiteley
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Future Farmers Network Member and recipient of on the 2019 FFN – Central Queensland University Travel and Training Bursaries, Chloe Kempe, has returned from trip to the US. Ms Kempe,f rom Ferny Hills, Queensland, attended the Seed Business 101 course at the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Centre in St Charles Illinois. Read her report from the experience here! 

I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to develop my agribusiness management skills at the Seed Business 101 course held in St Charles, Illinois. The course gave me tools to more deeply understand the operations of a seed business across various functional aspects including Research and Development, breeding, production, and sales and marketing.  The combined industry experience of the instructors was extensive and each instructor was generous in their sharing their learnings and experience within the industry.  Furthermore, the group of attendees brought much and varied experience to the course, with industry professionals from USA, Canada, Korea and Switzerland, representing various seed industries including corn, hemp and soybean.  There was extensive knowledge-sharing through team-based case studies designed to extend and further develop strategic thinking.  The field trip to visit a Bayer testing facility, Ag Reliant research station, and a Dekalb corn seed production plant was also a highlight.

Since returning home I have been in touch with our industry association, the Australian Seed Federation, to discuss the course and possible ideas for training and development that could be implemented here in Australia. I’m grateful to the Future Farmer’s Network and Central Queensland University for supporting my attendance at this course. Thank you!

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Passionate about Ag? Want to learn some great new skills AND contribute to the future of your industry? Then Future Farmers Network wants you!

FFN is now calling for nominations for Non-Executive Director Positions on its Board. This is an exciting opportunity to have your say and be part of shaping FFN into the future, and work with the current Board and management team to ensure FFN continues to improve and develop in line with member priorities.

It is an exciting time for FFN and the Board invites all interested members to put in an application. Click here for more information and application guidelines. All enquiries and nomination forms should be directed to Future Farmers Network Executive Officer Jamie-Lee Oldfield at

Nomination Process

Friday, 18th October 2019 Applications close at 5pm.
Week beginning 21st October 2019 Nominations & Remuneration committee to review applications and prepare shortlist for interview. Interviews commence.
Week beginning 28th October 2019 Candidates notified of outcomes of interviews.
1st November 2019 Candidates details listed on FFN Members-only website for member review.
14th November 2019 Elections held during FFN AGM.

Applications should be received no later than 5pm on Friday, 18th October 2019 and submitted electronically to FFN Executive Officer Jamie-Lee Oldfield at

For further information contact Jamie-Lee on 0429933926

AGM 2019 Notice of Meeting

FFN Non-Executive Director Selection Guidelines 2019

Board Nomination Form 2019


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Future Farmers Network directors regularly give their opinion on the latest news, events and issues in agriculture for an article for Farmonline and The Land. Here’s the most recent yarn from director Isabel Coulton

In 1941, Winston Churchill envisioned that lab grown meat would be a reality in the future. Indeed, the creation of cultured or ‘lab grown meat’ has been in the works since the 2000s when NASA researched the idea for astronauts in space. 

It essentially involves the production of synthetic ‘meat’ from animal stem cells, and whilst there is no commercially available product on the market in Australia at the moment, many sources suggest that lab grown meat will be on shelves by 2021. 

The commercialisation of lab grown meat promises to the public a range of benefits such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, improving resource depletion from factory farming and combating antibiotic resistance. 

Does this then pose a threat to the agriculture livestock industry as we know it?  

There is no doubt that the agriculture industry has reaped the benefits of technology throughout the years, but it may be presumptive to see lab grown meat as a negative ‘disruptor’ to the current industry. 

Despite all the headlines, the real tangible benefits of lab grown meat for the everyday consumer may be greater than what the hype suggests. 

Scalability and cost are the two major issues that the cellular meat industry has yet to provide a practical solution, and the thought of mass commercial production is still in its very early stages. 

However, in circumstances where the cultured meat movement has to date gained substantive financial backing, including from Australian investors, to develop solutions to these impediments and cement lab grown meat in the consumer market, it may be that the livestock sector needs to accept and adapt to the development rather than resist the perceived threat. 

There are possibilities for the two industries to exist in the same sphere. 

Lab-grown meat is predominantly responding to the global consumer trends of health and wellbeing and ethics and sustainability – two trends which can also be responded to by the Australian livestock sector through the improvement of health and wellbeing of animals, sustainable environmental practices and, critically, the extensive promotion of the integrity of the industry and its practices to the consumer. 

At the end of the day, the consumer is increasingly seeking a natural, unadulterated food product – which the red meat industry of Australia is able to provide. 

As is natural consequence of competition generally, this new emerging market may be the push required for the livestock industry to sharpen and improve its practices, to cater and remain a viable option for the ever-demanding consumer.

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Four Future Farmers Network members have been selected to undertake Australian Government funded real-time Foot and Mouth Disease training in Nepal in November and December. They submitted informative videos about the importance of biosecurity for Australian Agriculture to be selected for the opportunity.  Let’s meet them! 

Amabel Grinter, Boonals Downs Dairy – senior farm hand animal production
I have been within the agricultural industry my entire life growing up on my families dairy farm in Northern Victoria. I have always had an interest in learning as much as possible to both implement and share with the dairy community. Since graduating from a bachelor of Agricultural Science, I have been working full time on farm. My passion is the cows, and in particular I am extremely interested in animal production, health and welfare. I am very eager to expand my knowledge in this area, including what measures should be implemented at a farm level to minimise bio security risks.

Check out Amabel’s video here.

Kari Moffat, Wellards Rural Exports – Compliance and Animal Welfare Manager
I am 25 years of age, and currently hold the position of Compliance and Animal Welfare Manager for one of Australia’s largest live export companies. I have a Bachelor of Agribusiness from Marcus Oldham College, and during my studies sailed as a head stockperson on over 20 voyages to Asian markets. My current role has me overseeing the traceability, health and welfare of thousands of Australian cattle through the live export supply chain. I am also a founding member and Secretary of the Young Livestock Exporters Network, which has members all over Australia. If chosen to participate in this training, I would like to present my learnings to our membership upon my return.

Check out Kari’s video here.

Stuart Richardson, Landmark – Account Manager Animal Health and Management
I have been with Landmark for nearly 3 years spending the first eighteen months at Landmark Kojonup then transferring to Landmark Esperance as an Account Manager – Animal Health and Management. My role is to look after Landmarks Animal Health clients with a focus on Sheep and Cattle enterprises. I offer client services such as, FWEC, blood sampling, grain and hay sampling, livestock programs and feed regimes to name a few. I hold multiple qualifications in the agricultural industry and attended the WA College of Agriculture in Harvey. I have a passion for the agricultural industry and believe that Australia’s Biosecurity is key to ensuring we keep a sustainable industry.

Check out Stuart’s video here.

Mikaela Baker, Total Result Ag Consulting – Ruminant Productivity Consultant
Before beginning my bachelor of Agricultural Science at CSU I participated in manywork experience placements. The biggest impact was a discussion with a DPI veterinarian on Epidemiology and a visit to the local Vet to discuss the FMD outbreak protocol. I currently work in SA for a private consulting business. I work closely with clients involved in dairy, sheep and beef, talk at farmer days, Ag shop days, conference committees, discussion groups and I run two discussion groups through TRAC. Throughout my education I was involved in a parliamentary tabling of a report on Youth in Ag, president of the Ag Races, inaugural events such as Women in Ag networking brunch, the Networking Ball and many more.

Check out Mikaela’s video here.


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Future Farmers Network directors regularly give their opinion on the latest news, events and issues in agriculture for an article for Farmonline and The Land. Here’s the most recent yarn from WA director Henry Gratte. 

I was recently asked “What do you expect for the industry”?

I answered that I expected the industry to handle all of its problems like it has in the past – by turning them into a solution. The industry through my life has had problems with soil erosion, so the industry turned to no-till farming. This has had an impact on better germination through the tough starts and less wear and tear on the machinery. There are many examples were the different segments of the Agriculture industry, whether, diary, cropping, wool or pastoral has had a problem and the solution has improved the whole industry.
The question then asked was why is it important for young people to be engaged in agriculture and for young people not involved in the industry to learn about it.

We as active members of the agriculture industry have a unique position in the social structure without even realising it. One of the three basic human rights is food, and we as an industry have become so proficient at this basic human right that our friends and families living in non-rural communities don’t even give it a second thought anymore. By being involved in agriculture we are all contributing to the basic social structure and improving the society that we live in. We also have a duty of care for the environment around us, we need to keep the waters clean and the air fresh. By being active members of this wonderful industry that works with the world around us is a pretty special thing to do.

FFN Director Henry Gratte

The people not involved in the industry need to know about our industry for the exact same reason. In living memory there has never been such an interest in where food was produced. There are practices carried out on a daily basis considered to be bad practices by people living in the cities, and considered essential by farmers or industry professionals. Practices such as burning off or herbicide applications are looked down by our consumers. By being engaged with people not involved in our industry we can convey the point that these are not terrible practices as they may have been portrayed as but essential efficient practices with a lot of good science behind them or years of practice to ensure the sustainability of the industry.

This is where the great opportunity of the industry lies especially with social media. By bringing the fruit season to the forefront, by showing the grain being harvested that is that clean you can eat straight out of the header box, by showing all the tree lines that were planted twenty years ago for salt management and the proactive care the whole industry has taken for the land, the industry has some great solutions to the problems already. It will take a continued work of good will and the slow burn of a patient and wise industry to continue to find the solution for this problem but we are in good hands with the new generation of industry professionals who have studied from the learnings of the past and are keen to grow.

There are further ways that new entrants, young people, can work with the current industry professionals to expand this great opportunity for the future. The simple solution is to get involved! All actions start at home and in your local community, by supporting and working towards a strong local community then you have a solid base to start making a positive change a little bit further out, further into your specific field i.e., beef, wheat production, grain marketing or even the accountants that are only appreciated at tax return time. To start making small differences it has to be as simple as volunteering at the local sports club or the bushfire brigade.

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More great member bursary applications this month! Don’t forget that after you have been a financial FFN member for three months, you can apply for our monthly member education bursary worth $500. 

Joshua Fittler won a FFN Member Bursary to attend the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo, Victoria. The Armidale based ag-trepreneur held a stall for his startup Resurrect Refugia.
“We sell drench susceptible internal parasites of sheep for the elimination of drench resistance. The Australian Sheep and Wool Show is the largest event of its kind in the world. The best of the best sheep breeders come together to compete in showing of their sheep as well as a number of other exhibitors showcasing the latest in fashion, science, technology, cuisine and shearing.”

Sally Downie of Trundle in NSW has also been awarded a FFN Member Bursary, and will use it to assist in the costs of attending the Royal Agriculture Society of the Commonwealth Understanding and Assistance Mission, being held in the Caribbean Islands later this year. 10 delegates are selected for the trip to represent the RASC and promote agricultural shows, as well as participate in extension work. “I hope to gain an amazing experience from which I’ll develop skills, insight and networks to apply to my studies and career in agriculture. I want to share my experience and what I learn with other young people to encourage them to be involved in agriculture.”

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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.

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2019 has seen FFN partner with Charles Sturt University to provide FFN members with access to a series of the University’s studies directly relevant to young farmers. This fourth study looks at grazing dual purpose crops. Please contact CSU or FFN should you wish to find out more.

Take home messages:

  • Grazing dual-purpose crops with cattle can lead to high liveweight gains during winter
  • Cattle grazing dual-purpose wheat should be supplemented with minerals including calcium, sodium and magnesium
  • Best practice grazing management required for cattle grazing dual-purpose canola to reduce the risk of negative animal health outcomes.

Dual-purpose crops such as wheat and canola have become an important part of the mixed farmers operation.

These crops are most commonly available for grazing during June and July, when there are often large numbers of yearling cattle in southern Australia that are being hand fed over the winter achieving very little liveweight gain.

Research led by Dr Jeff McCormick at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and Charles Sturt School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences has found the availability of large amounts of high quality forage through dual-purpose wheat and canola crops could fill a common feed deficit in the southern beef operation.

A study carried out by Charles Sturt University Agricultural Science Honours student Mr John Paulet in 2018 showed that after an adaptation period, cattle growth rate could exceed 2kg/day when grazing canola, and it should be grazed for at least a month to achieve the most benefit.

Traditional grazing management of forage crops is to introduce cattle gradually to the crop to allow their rumen time to adjust and avoid animal health issues.

Commonly Australian farmers are reluctant to do this as it is perceived to take up too much time.

The study found that there were no animal health differences between those cattle introduced immediately to the crop, and those were gradually introduced, with all groups having hay available in the paddock at all times.

And in fact those with the slowest introduction took longer to adjust than those with the shorter introduction, as they were getting a bulk of their feed from the silage available to them when they were removed from the Canola.

Wheat crops contain a level of sodium and magnesium lower then generally required by livestock.

The study showed that supplementing these minerals in a loose-lick increased the average daily gain of steers by 25 per cent – when feed quality was high early in the season.

Those gains were not seen when loose-lick was supplemented to steers grazing the wheat crop later in the year, presumably because of the lower Crude Protein level of the crop.

To minimise the risk of cattle health problems grazing dual-purpose canola it is suggested to:

  • Reduce pre-sowing sulphur fertilisers for grazing crops.
  • Ensure cattle are well fed. Hungry cattle are more prone to health issues.
  • Introducing cattle to the crop mid-late morning during the adaptation period will reduce risks of cattle gorging themselves.
  • Although this trial did not demonstrate any negative health problems adapting the animals over a period of time will minimise any negative outcomes.
  • The research found very low nitrate levels in the canola leaf, so ensuring that there are high forage levels available will allow animals to select the leaf and reduce the risk of nitrate toxicity.
  • Provide hay in the paddock to allow cattle to select different forage. This will enable cattle to substitute hay for canola in the diet and increase dietary fibre levels.
  • During the adjustment period the cattle need to eat the crop. If they are grazing fence lines or any other non-crop areas it is unlikely the animals have been adjusted.
Dr Jeff McCormick
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Two Future Farmers Network members have recieved $1000 bursaries for exciting educational and networking opportunities thanks to our partner Central Queensland University.

West Australian Sarah Hyde will use her scholarship to attend the second evokeAg event in Melbourne in 2020. Sarah works with the Facey Group – a farmer run group that aims to improve on-farm practice to keep farms healthy and profitable into the future in the Wickepin, WA, region.

What do you hope to gain from the event? 
As the Executive Officer of a local grower group it is important to expand networks and to ensure that knowledge and opportunities are current and relevant to farmers. With technology advancing at rapid rates I think that this is the most relevant forum to expand knowledge currently offered in the agrifood space. I believe it will also be able to challenge me to explore opportunities at diversifying our current business model and looking for more sustainable revenue streams for longevity of the group. I believe that this event will allow me to expand networks and a personal professional development opportunity.

Chloe Kempe from Ferny Hills in Queensland will use her scholarship to attend the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Centre – Seed Business 101, a technical training course providing an accelerated program of learning for young managers within the see industry. This event is held in St Charles, Illinois, USA.

What do you hope to gain from the event?
My understanding of operating a seed business across all functional areas will be greatly enhanced, advancing my agribusiness management abilities. This leading course will connect me with seed industry professionals from around the world, broadening my networks. Knowledge of best management industry practice gained from this course will benefit my Australian employer and colleagues. Following the course, I will engage the seed industry through verbal and written communication with the Australian Seed Federation, and the agricultural sector more widely, through involvement with pasture R&D and commercialisation, including a current CRC-P for Northern Australia led by my employer, Agrimix Pastures.

FFN thanks Central Queensland University for their ongoing support of young people in agriculture.

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