Four partners, one plan
Writing down a plan for your business is never more important than 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. Originally from South Africa, Stacey 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 in 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 how they envisage the business looking in the future. You design 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 a few core ideas. “Part of our actual plan was buying the farm. Trevor had offered the farm to us prior to the course starting but it was the HOW we could achieve it that we needed to work out.” she said. Using a simple ‘Now, Where, How, Review’ planning process and providing one-on-one support for farmers over two years, OFOP assists with putting their plan in place and into action. “Everything was decided during the course. We had a rough plan and then Matt Harms (consultant) and the course helped us to knuckle down into the how and made it happen,” Stacey said.
The program is delivered either as an in person workshop over 3 sessions or via Zoom over 6 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 wanted to achieve. It actually made you think of what you want your life to look like,” she said. “I think very often as farmers we get very bogged down with day-to-day stuff. You forget 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,” Stacey said. “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 entering farming. Do they want to own a farm? Or do they want to share farm and invest in houses? There are so many different routes.”
Part of Stacey’s positive experience was working in a group and hearing about other farmer’s experiences. “Doing the course with a mix of people was really beneficial. 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,” she said.
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,” she said. “Focus on what’s really important. Know what your priority is from the get-go. A lot of people run themselves into the ground before they realize it’s not sustainable.”
GippsDairy is running a number of Our Farm, Our Plan programs over the next six months. Contact the team on 03 5624 3900 for more information. Visit www.dairyaustralia.com.au/ofop for an overview of the program. Or subscribe to our eNews, which includes our calendar of upcoming events.