The Gardiner Dairy Foundation has invested $1 million dollars across three years in a Farm Business Management Program, as the major investment in its people development strategy. The program, which is being run in partnership with the three Victorian Regional Development Programs (RDPs), will upskill Victorian dairy farmers in business acumen, risk management and leadership.
Bolstering Farm Business Management
The Farm Business Management Program is for farm owners who are looking to take their business to the next level and are willing to give back to the dairy industry. The program offers 10 scholarships per annum across three years. Annually this includes one scholarship for the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) (1 statewide), six for the University of Queensland Business School Owner-Manager Program (2 per RDP), and three scholarships for the Rabobank Executive Development Program (1 per RDP).each farmer will be inducted into the Australian Dairy Leadership Alumni (ADLA) after graduating.
Rabobank Executive Development Program
Cath Jenkins and Allison Potter began the Rabobank program in August 2015, finishing in July 2016.Ms Jenkins and her husband, Adam, moved from Melbourne to begin dairy farming, at South Purrumbete in Western Victoria 11 years ago. They started out as share farmers - with no prior experience - and now own their property with 240 cows in a self-replacing herd and have four children at school.
Adam and I both like to be active on and off the farm, Ms Jenkins said. I want to utilise this course to develop a sustainable business model to balance our on and off farm activity so we can be really good at both.
When she heard in the course that you need to earn the right to grow, it hit home. The message that you need to be profitable where you are before you expand is an important one, she said.
Allison Potter and her husband, Aaron, work in a business partnership with her brother and his wife at Poowong North in Gippsland. They started with 300 cows in 2011, bought the farm next door two years ago and now milk 500 cows.
Ms Potter said The Rabobank program suited me with its two intensive weeks spread over two years and preparing a strategic management plan for the business in between. The program has helped her to proactive, creating a business by design, not by default.
The course gives you a set of tools to get the most out of your business, particularly around setting meaningful measurable goals, she said. Interacting with the other farmers has also given me the sense that nothing is impossible.
UQ Business School Owner Manager Program
Andrew and Robyn Tyler have farmed at Tongala in Northern Victoria for 26 years where they are now milking 720 cows. In July to November 2015 Andrew completed the UQ Business School Owner Manager Program.
Mr Tyler (pictured above) said that during the course Albert Einsteins quote, We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them, really made me sit up and think. Sometimes we have got to look at things differently doing the course and removing myself from the day to day, gave me that opportunity.
Being exposed to a different calibre of people and business expertise highlighted the skills that I havent accessed in my business up until now and Ive made a commitment to seek more professional advice.
Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP)
Sally Mitchell, from Torrumbarry Northern Victoria, was accepted into the ARLP in 2015 and begins the program in August. She and her husband are milking 500 cows on flood irrigation and have been farming in the area for 17 years. Ms Mitchell said it would be a fantastic opportunity and I am looking forward to commencing the program and the challenges that await me in the Kimberly.
2017 Farm Business Management Program
The next round of scholarships under the Farm Business Management Program will be offered in February 2017. Potential applicants are encouraged to start investigating these opportunities now, given the commitment required to complete these courses.
Anyone who would like to learn more can download the Farm Business Management Program brochure here, contact their local RDP or the Gardiner Dairy Foundation phone (03) 8621 2900.