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The BCG team are in full harvest swing after a slightly stop-go start to the 2014 program. The two plot harvesters are stripping plots in paddocks across the Wimmera and Mallee and the lab is processing samples steadily with some interesting results so far.
BCG would like to offer growers a platform to communicate with other growers about seeking and selling grain.
As the cropping season draws to a close many growers are facing the harsh reality of significantly lower-than-expected yields and the fact that it may be 15 months until the business receives its next income injection. After an excellent start, the season has been disappointing, particularly in the southern Mallee and northern Wimmera where, after battling aphid infestations and several frost events, already stressed crops received virtually no rain in August or September. The addition of some very warm and windy weather only exacerbated the situation, and consequently crops across the region have suffered. Despite the less-than-favourable outlook, growers are being encouraged to think about the next season and to adjust financial plans accordingly. Financiers and financial counsellors across the region are strongly recommending that farm managers identify and address any potential challenges early, and, in conjunction with their bank or financial institution, make a plan for the next 15 months. The first step Simply acknowledging that it has been a tough season and that there may be some financial challenges ahead is the first step towards creating a strategy to overcome any hard times that may be on the horizon. Identify any financial commitments and try to get an accurate picture of the business's financial position. This will help when determining the likely financial position when the 2015 harvest cheque comes in. You're not alone but you're individual When times are tough, having a drink and a chat with others in a similar situation is a great support mechanism. It is also important to remember that every farm business is different with different capital structures and risk environments. Understand your individual position and options, focusing on your business, to make informed decisions. Be on the front foot Undertake budgets and financial commitments early and complete multiple budgets which reflect both the best and worst case scenarios. It is vital to be clear about your position in order to explore all the options for the next 15 months or so. The most important point is to not allow pride to get in the way of taking advantage of the support available. It is widely understood that decision-making on-farm is inherently complex. Seeking help Banks, rural financial counsellors and other support service are available to work with farmers to help them manage their finances. Now is the time to start communicating with your financier who will appreciate a commitment to remaining proactive in dealing with issues before they arise. The Rural Financial Counselling Service is a specialist service established to assist farming families and small businesses. They can provide urgent assistance, financial assistance, business planning and succession planning. Visit www.ruralfinancialcounselling.org.au for your local Rural Financial Counsellor or phone (03) 5442 2424. Assistance for farmers experiencing financial hardship is also available through the Australian Government's 'Farm Household Allowance' initiative. Information about this scheme is available at: www.humanservices.gov.au Farmers should contact their local municipal office for other support services in their area. At BCG we are communicating with our partners and working with local, state and federal government to high-light the challenges facing the region. The BCG team is keen to listen to, and work with, growers to help them through this period and to ensure the range of opportunities that 2015 offers can be taken advantage of. To talk to a BCG staff member, phone (03) 5492 2787.
A number of organisations and rural support agencies are available to help farmers negotiate the challenges of a disappointing cropping season.