Corporate ag needs family farming friends

14 Mar, 2016 01:00 AM
Westpac agribusiness general manager, Steve Hannan, says family farms and corporate agriculture should be collaborating and seeing each other as their best friend and coach.
Westpac agribusiness general manager, Steve Hannan, says family farms and corporate agriculture should be collaborating and seeing each other as their best friend and coach."

FARMING'S serious need for more capital investment and production scale to satisfy expectations from overseas food markets will not sideline family farms from being key players in a new era for agribusiness says banking boss, Steve Hannan.

In fact, Westpac's agribusiness general manager says young family farmers will play critical roles in Australia's corporate farm success.

Meanwhile corporate businesses were already providing a valued training ground for many young family farmers.

He said corporates, particularly newer players in our farm sector, badly needed to entice recruits from successful farm families to help manage and shape their agribusinesses DNA.

Close connections, including partnerships, with experienced and interested young farming professionals would ensure the big players fully understood ag's realities and became appreciated participants in their regional communities.

Mr Hannan told Outlook 2016 young farmers were great advocates for their industry and rural communities, and big business needed to use that connection, passion and "all the goodness it can bring to the board table".

At the same time he noted examples of clients who had worked in other agribusinesses, then returned home with corporate governance experience, business disciplines, risk mitigation strategies and market contacts which were invaluable around the kitchen table.

Others had worked in agribusiness roles overseas, returning to Australia to grow their family's business into export markets.

"This sort of thing has happened for a long time, but it is happening more and more," he said.

"I believe there is a place for family farms and corporate agriculture to be healthy and collaborating, so both see each other as their best friend and coach."

The best farmers were learning beside their parents and grandparents from a young age, including when the whole family sat together with trusted farm advisors and bankers to discuss business strategies, plan responses to fluctuating markets or evaluate new technology.

Complementary tertiary education and off-farm experience for these young men and women would contribute significantly to bringing the Australia's Asian market opportunities to life for family enterprises.

"I'm excited about how this trend is helping develop large family farmers (with turnover of more than $5 million a year), and smaller enterprises, as well as corporate investors in agriculture," he said.

More skin in the game from both sides of the agribusiness fence would also help create the right environment to attract investment funding needed to capitalise the farm sector so it could adequately service new markets overseas and locally.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall

is the national agribusiness writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Jock Munro
14/03/2016 4:42:06 AM

In other words Mr Hannon of Westpac wants a landlord and tenant arrangement where the big end of town owns the land and is in a position to charge excessive rent to would be farmers who would be much better off of they owned the land themselves.
John Niven
14/03/2016 8:43:44 AM

You don't think this is all about the Bank?


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