Farm Business Resilience Program
The Farm Business Resilience Program is supporting farmers to develop the knowledge and skills they need to improve their farm business and be better equipped to manage the impacts of drought and a changing climate.
The program supports farmers to improve skills and management practices in:
- Business planning and risk management
- Farm finances and profitable decision making
- Managing people on farm, farm safety and wellbeing
- Climate adaptation and natural resource improvement including soil, water, crops and pastures
The program includes short courses, workshops, webinars, field days and farms walks to suit the varying needs of farmers and community groups.
The Farm Business Resilience Program covers topics including profitable decision-making, business and workforce planning, managing people on farm, feed budgeting and stock containment areas, climate adaption, biosecurity, market analysis, emergency preparedness and farm safety.
Farmers are supported to develop or update existing farm action plans to achieve their individual business goals.
The Farm Business Resilience Program is jointly funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and the Victorian Government’s Future Agriculture Skills Capacity Fund.
Agriculture Victoria, in partnership with Dairy Australia, is delivering the Farm Business Resilience Program to farmers across all agriculture sectors.
Dairy Australia are delivering Our Farm, Our Plan to Victorian dairy farm businesses as part of the Farm Business Resilience Program. Our Farm, Our Plan is designed to help dairy farmers set long term goals, improve business performance and manage risk.
For more information and to register interest, visit the Our Farm, Our Plan web page.
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Hear from Project Leader Kit Duncan-Jones on what the Farm Business Resilience Program involves.
0:07 Kit Duncan-Jones
The Farm Business Resilience program is about providing the farmers with the knowledge and tools they need to better manage their farm business. The programme has three key focus areas. One is on risk management, whether that be farm safety, seasonal conditions or other key farm risks. Number two is around business planning, looking at the people side of the financial side and the natural resource side of your business. And then we go into details thinking about soils.
0:30 Kit Duncan-Jones
Water how you can grow better crops and better pastures for your farm business. Victorian farmers face uncertainty and complexity every day. However, the business of farming is getting more challenging significant climate risk, whether it be droughts and other seasonal conditions.
0:46 Kit Duncan-Jones
Financial pressures when it comes to fuel and fertiliser, price increases and also market disruptions, one has to only look back over the last couple of years to see these types of events increasing. Whether it be fires, floods, storms and a global pandemic, farmers need to be prepared.
1:03 Kit Duncan-Jones
The Farm Business Resilience Program supports farmers to develop a farm business plan. This provides them with an action plan to be better prepared and to ultimately achieve their individual business goals. The programs for those new to farming and young farmers. But it's also for experienced farmers who want to improve their decision-making developer or refresh their farm business plan and better manage their resources. We've had farmers new to the farming game come along and develop a new business plan for their business. We've also had farm family members.
1:33 Kit Duncan-Jones
Come along, young and old, and think about what transition looks like across the generations for their farm business. Equally, we've had farm employees come along to the programme and learn new skills, which is going to hold them in good stead for a career in ag. We know that people will learn differently, and we know it's hard for farmers to find the time to come do courses like this one. That's why we're creating as many opportunities for Victorian farmers to engage in the programme. We're going to have regional workshops and courses with other local farmers, state-wide events, and we're also going to have farm tours and one on one.
2:04 Kit Duncan-Jones
Consultations we're going to provide services both face to face and online to suit demand.
2:34 Kit Duncan-Jones
The program is funded by the Australian Government and the Victorian government through the Future Drought Fund. It's about empowering farmers to become more prepared and to better manage their business so when the tough times come, they can take control and remain a successful farm business into the future. To get involved, farmers can visit the agriculture Victoria website at agriculture.vic.gov.au to get all the program details.
Farm Business Planning
Paul Blackshaw discusses the importance of farm business planning.
Farm Business Resilience Program
Business planning with Paul Blackshaw video
0:07 Paul Blackshaw
Farm business planning is important so the participants in the business can really picture out five or ten years down the track what their business is going to look like and to be able to describe that well to all the people who are involved in the business. Most farmers will have a form of a plan, but it's usually living in their head. So the beauty of this programme is that it lets the participants talk to each other about what the plan looks like.
And then get it down on paper so they can really articulate that well with all the people who are involved in the business. The course really suits people who are brand new to farming, but also people who have been farming for a long time. It also suits young people and old people and also I think it suits really large commercial scale farmers, but also you know smaller farmers who might actually be relying on some off farm income can really get a lot from this as well.
So the process in developing the plan really starts with the participants assessing where they are now, which involves a SWOT analysis which helps them to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within their business. Then they move to trying to vision where they would like to be in the future. And the last step in that process is to actually put some actions in place that will help them to get there and prioritise them over say a one year time frame, a five year time frame or a ten year time frame. I think one of the hardest.
Parts is actually stopping work on the farm and working on the business and recognising that that's actually a valid use of your time. Once they have the plan in place, I think one of the first steps is to share that with everybody in the business, make sure everyone understands it. But the next step is to go back at least every two years and preferably every year, and actually review what the plan says, you know, tick off stuff that you've been able to achieve, but also readjust the plan if you need to, depending on changing circumstances.
Program case study – Grain farmer Ed Rickard
Hear from farmer Ed Rickard on the value he gained by participating in the Farm Business Resilience Program.
Farm Business Resilience Program
Grain farmer Ed Rickard video
0:06 Ed Rickard
Hi, my name's Ed Rickard and I'm a farm manager on our family farm. Our farm is a broadacre cropping farm, which are wheat, barley, canola, lentils and fetch.
It's a as I said, it's a family farm. So it's myself, my brother and dad who are working on the farm, and we run the farm collectively and the we at times employ casual staff. During busy times like sewing and harvest, we gain advice from accountants, agronomists, and other professionals.
I worked in finance and my level of knowledge of farming and agriculture was was pretty low. So I wanted to sign up to this programme to better understand the financial decisions around running a farm business and also the operations and people management that's involved in the in the day-to-day operations of the farm. We're putting a bit more thought into each.
Big investment decisions we make in terms of machinery and expanding our farm. The program also helped create a framework for succession planning, which we've started to implement. The programme was great in that it helps identify some technologies that we would find valuable. For example, we've installed weather stations all throughout the farm and soil moisture probes as well as video cameras across.
The main part of our farm, it's early days and we're trying to better understand the technology, but initially the soil moisture probes will hopefully help us plant different crops in different paddocks due to different rainfalls. In the program we created a business plan. One of the aims was to create more records in in planning for different crops and so which has helped us.
Have a lace tank quantity of all chemicals that were using throughout the year and that helps us go to supplies and source that supply better than what we were previously. The program involved different face to face sessions. I liked how broad it was and applicable to different types of farming and also like the part at the end where we.
Met with the farm management consultant and he took a lot of his own time in understanding our business and coming up with some key objectives and ways to achieve those.
I would recommend the programme to other farmers. You don't have to be an expert or you don't have to be a novice either. It caters for all levels of knowledge and I found the people at agriculture Victoria great to work with and keen to help better develop more knowledge in farming.
Farm Fitness Checklist
The Farm Fitness Checklist helps farmers assess where their business is at currently, and to identify areas and opportunities to strengthen their farm business.
It covers subjects including people management, skills and training, business planning and financial performance, emergency management, infrastructure, water supply, natural resource management, risk management, succession planning, off-farm activities and more.
The Checklists below have been developed for horticulture and apiary businesses.
- Horticulture Business Fitness Checklist (PDF - 729.4 KB)
- Horticulture Business Fitness Checklist (WORD - 359.0 KB)
- Apiary Business Fitness Checklist (PDF - 732.2 KB)
- Apiary Business Fitness Checklist (WORD - 468.6 KB)
Farm Business Planning
The following business planning templates are tools that support farmers to achieve their short, medium and long-term business and personal goals.
The Plan on a Page (A3) template is a useful decision-making tool for both small and large scale farm business decisions.
The Business Plan (A4) template supports farmers to develop plans for multiple aspects of their farm business.
The Action Plan (A3) template is designed for farmers to fill out after completing the Business Plan template. It is used to prioritise the goals identified in their Business Plan.
Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool
Farmers can also use the Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool (DR.SAT) to further assess their farm business resilience. The tool includes climate projections and farm business resilience resources to support farmers strengthen their farm business.
Climate Services for Agriculture
The Climate Services for Agriculture (CSA) tool helps farmers understand the historical, seasonal and future climate at their location to help them make informed decisions for their farm business. It provides farmers with historical data (1961-2021), seasonal forecasts (1-3 months) as well as future climate projections based on the 15 years before and after 2030, 2050 and 2070, for a given location.