In November 2019 I had the chance to present the ‘one-hour farm ownership pathway plan’ to a crowd of over 300 @Young Beef Producers Forum in Roma Queensland.
I had the pleasure of co-presenting with Claire Coates from Freeland Pork who was our first farmer matched with an investor.
If you haven’t seen that amazing presentation you can watch it here:
The Future Farmers Network organised the event and they had questions come in via the cloud which meant there was a stack of questions that we couldn’t get to. So I wanted to take the time to answer these questions here so everyone can benefit.
The context to these questions was a focus on practical ideas on how aspiring farmers can find their pathway to farm ownership.
The questions were ranked, so I’ll leave the highest voted questions till the end. But I think all of them were rippers. Most of my answers are ‘it depends’
As you listen you will see why we have the focus we have with Cultivate Farms -i.e. a matchmaking service. Because every farm, farm operation and the people involved have different requirements. So there is no one size fits all. People farm for different reasons, people invest for different reasons and retiring farmers want/don’t want to share for different reasons.
Your job as an aspiring farmer is to find 1000 people who might be able to help, in the expectation that one of them you will form a great relationship with and then co-own a farm together.
1. How do we change employer/farm owners mentally towards young people wanting to own a farm like when I first started out I was told there is no possible way to own a farm unless you are born into it?
2. What advice do you have to give young people looking to invest in properties and competing with foreign ownership?
3. Wouldn't the investors and retired farmers want the best profits so how do you make money to pay them?
4. With the recent loss of agricultural teaching institutions such as the ag colleges, how can the knowledge and skills from farmers who've been on the land for decades be passed on?
5. Are cultivate farms goals limited to farm ownership? Or do they extend to creating profitable agribusinesses?
6. What is the biggest road block young people who want to own a farm run into aside from personal motivation?
7. How many deals would a candidate look at before securing a successful one?
8. How involved do the investors that approach you want to be in the farming business?
9. Do the arrangements result in profit sharing with the existing owner?
10. Practically, is the investor the one buying the farm then entering into an agreement with you or are you taking money from the investor to then go and buy a farm?
11. Return on investment in ag is so low - how do you make a living and pay back your investor?
12. What returns in investment are the investors looking for when they invest?
13. How is ownership transitioning? Are the new operators reinvesting profits to the owner to effectively pay off the farm?
14. Not sure how to word this without sounding cynical, but wondering if there are any fail stories from Cultivate Farms matches and how has the business learnt and grown from these mistakes?
15. What happens if the farm doesn't turn a profit? E.g. multiple drought years etc.
16. What kind of preparation does a young farmer need before approaching a retiring farmer or investor? Do they need an existing business that needs growth or just a solid business plan and budget all set out?