The two-day Business Governance and Investors in Dairy Farming workshop gives farmers all the information they might need if they were looking to ready their dairy business for investment partners.
Dave Heinjus, from Rural Directions, runs the workshops and said dairy farm businesses are strong agricultural investment opportunities for potential investors, however many family-run operations did not have the structures and governance in place to be able to take commercial advantage of any interest.
The first day of the workshop looks at what corporate governance is, strategy, policy, organisational structure, risk management and how advisory boards can assist with managing the business and enable strong and effective governance.
The second day covers investment principles and farm management and what it means to be in business with an investor.
Also explained were various investment models from owner/operator, owner/lessee, share farming and equity partnerships.
Mr Heinjus said that while equity partnerships and other outside investors in dairy farms had proven to work well they required a level of cultural and structural change and accountability that many farms would have to work to develop.
“The workshops are a good opportunity for farmers to investigate governance for potential outside investment and the reality is that many decide that this is not the way forward for them, but at least they have considered it as an option and they can move forward,” he said.
West Australian dairyfarmer Elaine Haddow attended a workshop in December and she said it was very valuable.
“It was really good because as your operation grows you get stuck in your job and getting through what you need to do and there are just things you don’t know you don’t know,” she said.
“By that I mean governance is something important that as we grow we need to look at – the workshop presented by Mr Heinjus was not too technical and alerted us to many things that we should be looking at.”
She said while bringing in equity partners in the future might or might not be an option, it was good to have a firsthand explanation of how they work.
“It’s different when it’s just you and your husband and a worker but when you expand there are more workers you also need to put systems and operating procedures in place,” she said.
“Like many dairy farms we run pretty hard, we don’t have an HR person or an office person. We might have to look at that. And also as you grow sometimes you don’t get the small things done right so it’s changed our thinking as to how can we do that and implement it.”
Upcoming Governance Workshops
January 29-30 – Sunshine Coast
January 31 – February 1 – New South Wales
February 26-27 – Murray Dairy Australia
February 28-29 – Gippsland
March TBC – western Victoria