Eye on next opportunity

27 May, 2013 02:00 AM
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Brad Millsteed, Watheroo and his family hope to continue to grow their farm sustainably.
Brad Millsteed, Watheroo and his family hope to continue to grow their farm sustainably.

EXPANSION seems to be a word that most farmers avoid in the WA agricultural industry at the moment.

But Brad Millsteed and his family are one of the few farm businesses bucking the trend and are always on the look out for opportunities to expand their enterprise.

Brad and his cousin Adam help run the Watheroo property owned by his father Jeff and uncle Brent and since moving to the area in the 1940s the family have grown their business into the successful 3600 hectare mixed cropping and livestock operation they run today.

"We are definitely looking to expand, you cannot sit still, but the growth has got to be sustainable," Brad said.

For the Millsteed family, sustainable expansion entailed the steady acquisition of smaller parcels of land over time.

Brad said the biggest challenge for the business was finding affordable land in the Watheroo area to continue the growth of their farm.

"It's that old thing, you can never buy more than half of what you have already got because as soon as you do that you are breaking the rules," he said.

Brad cited stamp duty on land purchases as a key reason to avoid purchasing larger portions of land.

As third generation growers, Brad and Adam have combined their parent's skills and knowledge with their own, which has played a large role in the success of the operation.

The Millsteed family are a team, each with their own expertise and attributes which have played a major role in the successful growth of the farm.

The difficult years, particularly the 2006/2007 period, had taught the family to communicate more effectively.

And with the recent addition of his first child to the family, Brad is enjoying farming more than ever before.

"Dylan coming along has been the best thing for our farm because it has opened my eyes that there is a world away from farming," he said.

"Before we had kids I really went through a stage of wondering what we were farming for.

"I always thought before I had kids that a large part of the joy of farming would have to be knowing that it is there for the next generation."

Adam also has three children, and the cousins are happy to maintain the hard work involved with expansion.

The 2013/2014 season looks positive for the Millsteed family having received significant summer rainfall and an exceptional break to the season.

The family are currently in the middle of seeding and plan to implement a cropping program comprised of 1100ha wheat, 200ha canola and 300ha lupins.

As part of their mixed enterprise they also run 1600 Merinos and 50 Poll Herefords.

Brad said that recent rainfall had definitely buoyed his spirits, and they were on track to complete seeding by the first week of June.

"This is the wettest I have seen it in a decade," he said.

"It's just magnificent. We had 40-50mm across the farm, which is above average rainfall for this time of year.

"You couldn't ask for a better start, that March rainfall was gold and was great for stored moisture."

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