What is the background of your business? Where did it all begin and where is it now?
Agriculture: Sheep and Cropping – Springvale is a mixed farm producing wheat, barley and canola grain and lambs for market. The family identity was initially based around Merino sheep stud Middleview.
We are a six generation farming family who started on the Monaro around 1830 on the Middleview property. The family expanded their holding in the Numbla Valley over time to include Springvale, Merani Park (owned by Ross’s sister-in-law) and Avoca (owned by Ross’s elder brother) and they continued to buy and sell property around the Cooma region. All family members operate with a connection to the merino sheep industry.
Ross has been working both the Middleview and Springvale properties until recently.
Tell me who is part of your business, and what is their role?
Ross Anthony Walters – Owner
Sophie Walters – Owner (also works off farm three days a week)
Matthew Walters – Part Time employee
Are you planning to grow?
We are looking towards restructuring the business model, possibly looking towards a more contracting focus with our sheep and crop.
Have you had to evolve over time in your business?
Yes, in regards to looking for off-farm work (harvest, sowing and spraying contract work). [We also] introduced a cropping program and learnt about more active weed/pest management programs.
What are the key changes and innovation in your business, be it genetics/ farming practices or other systems, that have helped drive results and overall performance?
Change in management in the structures around us professionalising the business and financial management. Clarity around the roles of family members within the business and how this will look in the future. We have also been innovative in introducing a cropping program to our farm on the Monaro – not many committed croppers in the region. This has allowed us to grow grazing crops so we are able to grow our lambs and trade sheep on the crops and also produce our own grain for feeding through winter and some to sell on the market.
What has been the biggest impact?
Drought, passing of a key member of the family.
How important is it to plan in your business for the future, and put the right structures/conversations in place (re: family, business and ownership)?
Super important. Making sure that everyone involved is clear regarding their roles and expectations and where the business is heading. Having the support to help navigate the different personalities that appear when future plans are introduced are critically important.
Any other remarks?
Sprout Ag have been bloody superb! Cannot recommend Sprout Ag enough for sorting out future plans, succession plans and identifying what roles there are and who is most suited!