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Initiative launched to improve business skills of South Australian farmers

Primary Industries

IMPROVING the financial literacy of South Australian farmers and primary producers will be the focus of a new State Government funded-program announced today.

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 The government will spend $300,000 during the 12 month program, to start in 2016, to assist farmers improve their business skills.

Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said the government was approached by Rural Business Support (RBS) which had identified a gap in business management skills in the rural sector.

“Many of our producers are highly skilled and technologically advanced,’’ said Bignell.

“However, a need for improved financial awareness and strategic business planning was needed.

“The program will be delivered by Rural Business Support and will benefit farmers who are willing to adopt best practice and production to grow their business.

“The new program would enable primary producers to manage change, risk and business challenges.”

He said improved commercial decisions would mean primary producers are better able to manage change, which would lead to better returns that will have “real and positive economic benefit “ to families and regional communities

RBS chief executive officer, Brett Smith, who also manages the Rural Financial Counselling Service in SA and the Northern Territory, said the initial program could help provide the basis of a national roll-out.

“We will assist primary producers through improved financial knowledge – giving them the skills to be better informed and to make better business decisions,” Smith said.

“The program will include the use of new learning tools and on-farm support to enhance financial literacy as well as industry consultation and a strategic finance review.

“Assistance with the preparation of strategic action plans will also help with securing lending finance which will improve overall business management.

“It doesn’t matter what business you are in, if you don’t fully understand your financial position you are likely to find yourself in trouble.

“Being aware of gross margins, export opportunities, which parts of your business are making money and which parts are not, marketing costs, product price are all critical issues for success and can effect the bottom line. So they need to be fully understood.

He said the measure of the success of the program would be monitoring farmers who took up the challenge to implement and adopt improved methods

Along with the support of the South Australian Government, the program has been widely endorsed by local and national industry groups.

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