FARMVIEW Season 2 Episode 5.1
Episode 5.1 - Diversification
Three or four years ago I was totally wine grape production and in the boom years it was enough. We made a good living. We were getting a good return on our investment and then with the downturn of the industry, we were battling to get a fair return out on our investment and only struggling to meet costs. All the eggs were in one basket and a small turnaround in the industry was going to have a huge effect on me. Whether that was up or down because of course, at one stage when it was up, it was good and when it went down it was bad. And so we decided to diversify into something else. Currently I have got wine grapes and citrus and also grow some veggies. We have got 100 acres in total. You have got to be on the ball all the time. You have always got to be thinking about not what you are going to be doing tomorrow, I am always thinking about what I am going to be doing next week and next month.
That is a big difference from coming from the wine grapes. I mean we had been in the wine grapes for so long, you did not really have to think about much anymore. You knew what you had to do all the time. It was really not a lot of thinking involved. All your spray programmes, your fertiliser programme, everything just was year after year pretty much exactly the same, nothing really changed. As soon as we came into the citrus and then into the vegetables, all of a sudden it was a real shock to all of a sudden realise that "this involves a lot of thinking". A lot of thinking all the time always got to be planning ahead and that has been probably harder than I thought and I have had to learn to switch off. I had to learn to go home and not think about it.
If I was still in total wine grapes I recon I would be a gibbering mess. There is no doubt about that. I would be really sweating about my future because I am not old enough to retire. I am in that no-man's-land where I have probably still got 5 to 10 years of working life and if I had stayed in the wine grapes, I would have had to have done something else. You know, work our farm, which I really did not want to do.
My son coming in with me has made a huge difference because now I am working towards another goal and that is for him to take over more responsibility and eventually just take over the running of the farm and also buy some off me and now I have got a future, not only a financially secured future, personally I feel that I am working towards a goal for setting up my son in the business.
Why I decided to diversify apart from the fact that I was slowly going broke, but I suppose there is another thing to it is that the fact that you really have not got any control over your own destiny. Very few farmers are in a situation where they are the price setters. We are always going to be a price taker, but with citrus for instance, I do not have to send it to a particular packing shed. I can send it to any packing shed. You have got a little bit more freedom and the vegetables the same. I can send them to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, wherever I want to. Wherever I think I can get the best dollar for, I am not being controlled by anybody.
Yes, as far as the diversification goes, a lot of my mates would argue that economy to scale would say that if you are going to be a small horticulturalist and that would probably be anyone that is under probably a couple of hundred acres, you should concentrate on one thing. You planting equipment is all set up to do one job and therefore your economy to scale is good, but I do not necessarily think that that is so. It has not been in my case anyhow. We have diversified now. Sure we have had to go out and buy different machinery, we probably run more tractors than we like, but that is just part of what we do and I think it has worked really well for us or it is working well for us at the moment anyhow.
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