Diversifying for stability - Russo Farms

A century after his Sicilian grandfather came to Australia, 68-year-old Joe Russo is preparing his sons to become fourth-generation farmers.

“For the first three generations, it was about sugar cane and hard brawn,” Joe says. “Now it’s using technology to do things cost-effectively and ensuring your eggs aren’t all in one basket.”   

Childers-based Russo marvels that his father could support his family through growing 5,000 tonnes of sugar cane each harvest.

Today, Russo and his sons grow cane, peanuts, barley and macadamias, aiming for three crops per cycle with their GPS-directed harvesters cutting up to 800 tonnes of cane a day.

Moving to pastures new - Raff Angus

When climate change threatened the viability of the Raffs’ South-East Queensland Angus cattle stud, the extended family decided to move to King Island, Tasmania where their expanding mixed farm benefits from cooler, wetter conditions.

In Queensland, the Raff’s business model was three years of labour, feed and genetic investment for a one-day-a-year bull sale. The cost of production restricted their future as much as the irregular Queensland climate.

Planning and budgeting were all but impossible. Since settling on King Island, the Raff family has diversified into sheep, free range eggs and farm stay accommodation while growing their herd to 850 breeding stock.

Changing scale to suit the times - Parbery Pastoral

The Parbery family have milked cows in NSW’s Bega Valley for nearly 100 years. However, when milk prices crashed in 2002, Herb Parbery was forced to rethink his expansion plans.

He stayed solvent by halving his herd and investing in technologies to help him operate more cost effectively.

Today, Parbery Pastoral still sells all its milk to Bega Cheese with Gavin and fifth generation Hayden raising milk production to over six million litres a year.

Creating a point of difference - Burder

When George Fendyk and son Adam bought the Burder factory in 1991, a team of five manufactured 25 front end loaders in their first year. It soon became apparent that their biggest challenge was combatting cheap out-of-the-box imports flooding the market.

Adam’s plan was to offer high-quality customised equipment, delivered quickly, and designed to perform exactly as the client wanted. That move turned adversity into opportunity: demand for the custom products has soared.

Today, a team of 60 adapt over 2000 subframe designs into customised farming equipment across Australia.

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NAB Agri calendar 2020

NAB salutes the achievements of 13 extraordinary rural business owners.

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