Gippsland dairyfarmers Paul and Lisa Mumford have ridden the Focus Farm rollercoaster through one of the toughest periods in recent memory.
The milk price crash in 2016 hit the Won Wron couple hard — as it did for so many other farming families — with tough decisions needed to keep the business in solid shape.
With a history in banking, Mr Mumford knows that numbers don’t lie and he was comfortable opening his books throughout the Focus Farm period.
They haven’t always made good reading in the past two years, but the Mumfords have soaked up the input of their hand-picked Focus Farm support group during that time.
“They are quite ruthless to us, which probably concerns Lisa more than myself, so it can be a challenge,” Mr Mumford said. “But we have to make sure we are totally open and honest with our numbers.
“While we were struggling a bit in 2016, we think we have turned the corner and the numbers are backing that up.”
Being Focus Farmers during a tough period has forced the Mumfords to reexamine every aspect of their business and helped them to make a number of small adjustments that have added up to a big improvement in business performance.
“Business-wise, it’s been turned on its head,” Mr Mumford said.
“The Focus Farm has asked us about our margins, cost structures, the economics of decisions that we have previously made.
“It has really made us think about what is the cost of production, not only in dollar value, but also the effects on the cash book, the farm itself and the animals.
“So we’ve questioned cost structures in many parts of the business.”
Mr Mumford cites a better understanding of production costs as the single most significant change that has come about through the Focus Farm period.
“We know what the physical cost of production on a cow level — practically on every day — is,” he said.
“It’s making us evaluate the profitability of the business, on any one day throughout the year, to allow us to make decisions moving forward.
“We know our business better on a financial basis.
“I don’t think we were bad prior, but it has honed our skills and quantified what we are thinking.”
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Source: The Australian Dairy Farmer