Managing costs with farm business planning

Victorian dairy farmers Craig McWhinney and Kellie Orgill know the value of regular financial planning for their farm business.

“As we approach the end of financial year, we do a lot of our financial planning,” says Craig, who farms with Kellie in the Gippsland town of Yarragon.

“We’re setting our businesses up to be resilient and cope with those ups and downs that we get within the industry and know what we should be doing going forward.

“Like most dairy farms, we’re a family operation and it really helps being on the same page from a financial point of view."

With the end of financial year fast approaching, now is the time to be prepared.


Know your numbers

Craig says financial performance benchmarking, productivity and performance are all things that farmers need to be doing.

“As dairy farmers, we use a lot of intuition based on things that we've seen in the past and experiences,” he says.

"Programs such as Dairy Farm Monitor and DairyBase really help us in backing up that intuition. It’s being on the front foot and proactive with a lot of your financials, as well as knowing where you’re at.

“This can be a bit daunting – but there's always people out there that are there willing, and able to, help.”

Craig explains that comparing your own farm to how it was 10-15 years ago, as well as to other farms, can help to guide improvement – as well as see where you can gain efficiencies.

"We base a lot of our performance on pasture and that then flows through to financial performance,” he says.

"We do a fair bit of analysis on a monthly basis with one of our discussion groups. We look at far as our input costs go and where we’re sitting compared to other people.

"And then on an annual basis, we do a financial analysis and pasture consumption comparison.”


Plan ahead

Craig says financial performance analysis is not a “set and forget exercise” once you’ve completed it each year.

“It's all about planning and being proactive, not reactive and getting halfway through the year and going, ‘oh, we should have done this’.”

As the end of financial year approaches, Craig says the business already knows what it should be doing going forward.

“We just keep refining what we're doing – keep changing our business in little bits and pieces to make sure it's a strong, robust and resilient,” he says.

"I think we need to become a lot more independent and take responsibility for our own business going forward.

“The more information you've got about it, the more confidence it'll give you going forward.”

Working across all regions, Dairy Australia provides access to farm business performance tools such as Farm Business Snapshot and DairyBase, as well as our flagship program Our Farm, Our Plan.

Information and resources support dairy farmers in business fundamentals, planning and risk, and budgeting and analysis.

For support with your farm business management needs, contact your regional office or visit Enhancing Farm Business Management | Dairy Australia to find out more.

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