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Welcome to the July 2023 edition of the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) Southern Queensland newsletter. 

Message from CEO

The recent rain across much of Queensland has hopefully provided a welcome boost for farming enterprises who entered winter with less than favourable conditions. Whilst the Bureau of Meteorology may have been the most-scrutinised source of information over recent weeks, it was also noted that the Reserve Bank of Australia provided a reprieve from the ongoing rate increases last week, with July being only the second month in the past year where rates remained steady.

In June, it was a highlight to travel to Canberra to meet with the other RFCS providers from across Australia, along with representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the National Emergency Management Agency. Whilst all RFCS providers focus on their home regions, the themes of increasing operating costs, rising finance costs, a less favourable weather outlook and downward trends in commodity markets were common ground for discussion across most of the country.

Also, throughout the month it was great to attend FarmFest in Toowoomba and catch up with both my team and our stakeholders with whom we collaborate with regularly in delivering our services. Attending FarmFest on a warm and sunny day was a welcome change to many prior years of less enjoyable weather at this particular event!

Here at the RFCS Southern Queensland we appreciate that many farm businesses are facing big financial decisions at the moment. Whether it’s a favourable fixed interest rate that is maturing into a much higher rate, season-induced decisions relating to livestock sales or other commodities, or potentially a livestock trade which has not been as profitable as planned due to lower commodity markets, our team is on hand to assist. If you are looking for support in navigating your farm business finances, give your local Rural Financial Counsellor a call.
Best regards,
 Ross Leggett
Chief Executive Officer

The power of a farm business resilience plan

Good planning is a key part of ensuring your farm business is resilient during tough times. It is essential to have a roadmap that guides your future operations. One powerful tool in this endeavour is the farm business resilience plan.

By developing a comprehensive farm business resilience plan, producers can gain a more comprehensive view of their farm’s future and equip themselves with effective strategies to navigate challenging climate conditions.

Our Team of Rural Financial Counsellors and Livestock Business Planning Specialists are available to guide you through the process of developing a farm business resilience plan.

If you are interested in learning more about the experiences of producers who have benefited from implementing a farm business resilience plan, check out this story from the Queensland Country Life.

Get to know Rachel Chambers

This month, we caught up with Rachel Chambers, CEO of the Queensland Fruit & Vegetable Growers (QFVG) organisation. Rachel is a strong advocate for Australian horticulture and is passionate about promoting its importance to the wider community and ensuring its continued growth and success.
Can you tell us a little bit about QFVG and its role in supporting the horticulture industry in Queensland?
QFVG is the state industry body representing Queensland fruit, vegetable and nut growers. QFVG provides two main services, advocacy and service delivery. Our members expect our advocacy to be loud, strong and brave and want us to have their back in an ever-changing landscape. The service delivery arm Growcom ensures growers are at the centre of the programs and services it needs to thrive into the future.
What sets Queensland’s horticultural industry apart from other regions or states?
The model of QFVG is unique across Australia as it’s the only state-wide horticultural specific peak industry body. This allows us to speak up on collective horticulture-specific issues much more effectively for our growers. Queensland has such a wide variety of edible horticulture able to be grown, however it also has its share of climatic issues to overcome. We grow a third of the nation’s fruit, a quarter of the nation’s vegetables and a tenth of the nation’s nuts.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a positive impact in their community or industry?
To start. Many people overthink making an impact, I’m a big believer in just starting somewhere, anywhere.

It has been just over one year since you began your role as QFVG CEO. Looking back, what are you most proud of during this time?
Our industry. I’m most proud of the people who get up every day determined to grow the best fruit, vegetable or nuts in the world. I’m proud they do this in the face of all weather conditions, disasters, duplicated compliance, legislative changes and a general lack of reverence for the work they do. I’m proud that we declared this year as the Year of Horticulture and we have started to really celebrate them, educate consumers and advocate to decision makers.

What is one thing you wish you knew earlier in your career?
I wish I knew a lot of things earlier, however I’ve learnt how to forgive myself for not getting it right. I used to spend time dwelling on my mistakes, thinking everyone would be giving them as much time as I did. Now I give myself a small amount of time to feel sorry for myself (down to even a couple of minutes), I then pull out the lesson I needed to learn and keep going!

Extraordinary disaster assistance recovery grants extended

Primary producers still recovering from the devastating floods of early 2022 now have more time to apply for Extraordinary Disaster Assistance Recovery Grants.

Grants associated with the South East Queensland Rainfall and Flooding, 22 February – 5 April 2022 event have been extended until 8 September 2023. Eligible primary producers can apply for grants of up to $75,000 to help fund clean-up and recovery activities.

If you were impacted by these rainfall and flooding events and haven’t applied for a grant, please get in touch with your local Rural Financial Counsellor.

Hannah’s tip for primary producers

Welcome to the new financial year! 

A new financial year is a great opportunity to reassess where you are at and what is planned for the next 12 months and beyond. Now is a great time to be reviewing your business plan and ensuring it aligns with future goals and your projected cash flows and stock flows.

If you require assistance with reviewing your plans, please reach out to a Rural Financial Counsellor near you.

Hannah Mrowka
Rural Financial Counsellor
Emerald Office

Carbon Farming Advice Scheme

The Carbon Farming Advice Scheme (CFAS), jointly delivered by the Land Restoration Fund and the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA), offers financial assistance of up to $10,000 to farmers and other landholders to obtain expert advice in relation to the potential of carbon farming on their land.

To be eligible for this scheme you must:

  • be an eligible landholder in Queensland
  • have not received financial assistance for similar advice under the previous CFAS
  • be seeking eligible advice
  • ensure advice is provided by an Approved Adviser

The next round of CFAS funding opens on 17 July 2023.

Spotlight on Nathan Wichlacz

For anyone who has lived in the Maranoa Region, is an avid player of lawn bowls or has popped into our office in Roma anytime in the last 10 years, you have probably met Nathan.

Nathan is a local lad who grew up on rural properties and enjoys living and working in the region. He has a firsthand knowledge of the workings of livestock and farming enterprises and enjoys assisting the family on the weekends with their mixed farming property.

Excitingly, Nathan and his wife Cass have welcomed baby Walter into their family this year (Bruce the dog is maybe not quite as enthusiastic about this as Nathan and Cass). In his spare time Nathan enjoys playing competitive lawn bowls and has been known to partake in a beer or two in celebration of his bowling wins.

With qualifications in Accountancy, Mathematics, Financial Counselling and Mental Health First Aid, Nathan is well equipped to help clients negotiate with banks, secure additional funding, apply for income support and plan for succession. This, coupled with his strong, established referral network throughout southwest Queensland means clients can be assured they are in capable hands with Nathan.

If you’re a primary producer in the Maranoa or surrounding areas and need support navigating your farm business finances, get in touch with Nathan today.

Queensland Rural Workers’ Accommodation Initiative

Affordable housing availability in rural areas can pose a serious issue for primary production businesses trying to recruit suitably qualified workers to their regions. A solution to this problem can be found through the Queensland Government’s Rural Workers’ Accommodation Initiative.

By utilising a QRIDA Sustainability Loan, primary production businesses can now build their own small-scale rural workers’ accommodation on farm. Providing accommodation for workers can increase the likelihood of attracting and retaining quality staff, giving businesses a competitive edge in a tight labour market.

Tax deduction for primary producer fencing and fodder storage

Accelerated depreciation for primary producers is available through tax deductions for the full cost of fencing or fodder storage assets.

These measures apply to capital expenses on fencing assets incurred after 7:30pm 12 May 2015 and capital expenses on fodder storage assets incurred on or after 19 August 2018.

Fencing assets include:

  • posts
  • rails
  • wire
  • droppers
  • gates
  • fittings
  • anchor assemblies.

Fodder storage assets include:

  • silos
  • liquid feed supplement storage tanks
  • bins for storing dried grain
  • hay sheds
  • grain storage sheds
  • above-ground bunkers.

‘What’s your plan?’ workshops

Look out for the upcoming ‘What’s your plan?’ workshops where you can catch up with our team as well as representatives from Southern Queensland Landscapes, QRIDA and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. These workshops will discuss improving the resilience of your grazing enterprise.
Bollon, 1 August 2023
Noorama, 2 August 2023
Morning tea and lunch provided
You can find details on how to register for these events on our Facebook page closer to the event date.