Tuesday, 16 April 2024 08:49

Free workshops to bolster farmer financial skills

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Rabobank general manager for country banking Bruce Weir. Rabobank general manager for country banking Bruce Weir.

Free workshops are being offered around the country to help farmers take more ownership of their farm business finances.

The one-day Rabobank Financial Skills Workshops are facilitated by Lawrence Field, from Rural Field Consultants, and are open to both clients and non-clients of Rabobank. Six of the workshops have already taken place this year, with a further 24 scheduled over the remainder of 2024.

Two Financial Skills Workshop modules are available to farmers, with Module One covering stock reconciliations, reading financial statements and what banks are looking for when assessing a farm business, and Module Two covering budgeting, monitoring variances and how to respond if the farm budget deviates from the plan. Attending Module One is not a pre-requisite for attendance at Module Two, however some understanding of financial statements and what lenders look for is desirable.

An initiative of Rabobank’s Client Councils — groups of the bank’s farming clients who meet regularly to discuss issues and implement initiatives to contribute to sustainable rural communities — the workshop series was launched in mid-2021. Since then, over 900 Kiwi farmers have attended one of the more than 60 workshops which have taken place across New Zealand.

Rabobank general manager for country banking Bruce Weir said it was critical farmers and growers had a strong understanding of the financial performance of their business –particularly given the challenging environment industry participants have faced across the past 12 months.

“While we have seen some improvement in agri commodity pricing and farmer sentiment during the early months of 2024, the 23/24 season has undoubtedly been a challenging one for farmers and growers as they’ve grappled with lower commodity prices, high inflation, high interest rates, and the lingering impact of adverse weather events,” he said.

“With this being the case, it is essential farmers know how to read financial statements for their business, and that they understand what levers they can pull under different scenarios to ensure their business is set up for long-term success.

“The workshops do a great job of upskilling farmers in these areas, and I’d strongly encourage farmers to register for an upcoming workshop in their region.”

Weir said participant feedback from recent workshops had been incredibly positive.

“We often find farmers are a little reluctant to sign-up, but once they get to the workshop, they quickly discover other participants have similar knowledge gaps to the ones they do and everyone is there to learn,” he said.

“Our course facilitator, Lawrence, is also really good at making attendees feel at ease and bringing the course content to life. And across the workshops we’ve run in 2024 to date, the average workshop rating we’ve received from participants in their feedback forms is 4.8 out of 5.”

Weir said the bank had recently teamed up with Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) to promote the workshops.

“Our objective is to get as many farmers as possible along to a workshop, so we recently teamed up with B+LNZ and they are now promoting these workshops through their networks,” he said.

“This has helped boost attendance numbers and we’re hoping to see strong attendance at all of the workshops taking place across the remainder of the year.”

More information on upcoming Rabobank Financial Skills workshop and the workshop registration form can be found on the Rabobank website.

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