Future Farmers Network and the Young Farmer Business Program host successful Start-Up Stories event in Moree

Young farmers and agribusiness professionals from the Moree district had the opportunity to hear from a local farming family doing things differently, as well as learn about drought subsidies, at a networking event last week.

About 60 people attended the Start-Up Stories event, hosted by Future Farmers Network and the Young Farmer Business Program, at Moree Town and Country Club on Wednesday, September 5.

It was the first Start-Up Stories event held in Moree, and one of six to be presented across the state as part of the Young Farmer Business Program, an initiative of the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

“The idea is to provide a platform where people who are in a similar situation, business-wise or farm-wise, can connect and discuss business ideas,” Future Farmers Network chair Megan Davies said.

“I think I said it multiple times throughout the night, but it’s that old saying, ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’.

“It’s all about strengthening networks around town and drawing on others in that network and how they can help you and your business.”

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A mix of farmers and agribusiness professionals, including agronomists, bankers and accountants, attended the event on Wednesday.

“It was great,” Ms Davies said

“We were really stoked with the turn-out. We had 54 register and a handful of others turn up.

“Our target is people aged 18 to 35 looking at trying to buy their own farm or have their own farm and are looking to expand. For everyone else, it was giving them an idea of what young farmers are up against and some inspiring ideas on how to go about it.”

The guest speakers at the Moree Start-Up Stories event were Rebecca Longworth and her brother-in-law Sam Heagney from South Bunarba Ag, Mungindi, who shared the challenges and triumphs of their succession planning journey and their modern approach to business.

The Longworth family have gone against the traditional farming family succession approach – instead of the son coming home to the family farm, the two girls in the family – Rebecca and Annette and Annette’s husband Sam – chose to take on the running of the farm, while their brother Stuart is a stay-at-home dad in New York.

Despite the geographic challenges, their corporate-style business structure allows all family members to remain involved with the business.

“It was a really inspiring succession planning story,” Ms Davies said.

“Rebecca spoke about how the family engaged a succession plan specialist, Isobel Knight from Proagtive Tamworth, from when she was only very young. It had been on their radar a long time and, combined with hard work and perseverance, they’ve now completed the first phase of their plan.”

Ms Davies said the main thing people got out of the story was that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all when it comes to succession planning.

“It’s valuable to hear of other people who have been in similar situations and share ideas that may or may not work for everyone. It’s information gathering,” she said.

“The idea with Start-Up Stories is we ask people to tell their story of how they got started in their farming business. We’re interested in what worked, but more importantly, what the challenges were, what didn’t work, and what learnings came from it.”

Prior to the start-up story, C&W Financial Services’ Fraser Brown and Ella Williams gave a presentation on drought accounting, providing a succinct list of exactly what subsidies are currently available for farm businesses and farming families, where to go to find them and what people need to do to be eligible to receive a subsidy.

“It was so valuable,” Ms Davies said. 

“No-one had any idea about exactly what’s out there and how to go about finding all the different subsidies.

“We had a really good response from people who came asking for a copy of the presentation.”