The business of farming
Shannon McCormack, NSW DPI, Rural Resilience Team Coordinator. IMAGE: Supplied.
WHEN it comes to building a farm business, organising your finances and
understanding bookkeeping can quickly become overwhelming. Luckily, the team behind the
Young Farmer Business Program (YFBP) have spent countless hours developing a step-by-
step guide to all things business.
With the help of rural financial counsellor Shannon McCormack, the team have created a
series of specialised videos which can help even the most novice of us start to get a handle
on the basics of reading statements which can be vital when it comes to monitoring the
performance of your business.
Knowing what to look for can also help you to assess your business decisions which can
often feel overwhelming and time-consuming, especially when there is so much going on
outside the office.
The toolkit can be found on the YFBP website and includes templates for profit and loss
statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements and a business plan.
Shannon said comprehending the basics is vital to good business planning and decision
making and was excited to see the program bringing young farmers together to develop a
network of like minded peers.
“You need that - not just for business but socially. It’s bringing young people together of a
similar demographic that all have a thirst for learning and who truly love agriculture and they
want to make a real go of it.”
Previously in banking, Shannon has first hand experience of what it takes to step outside
your comfort zone and dive into further study.
“It wasn’t that long ago when I was in the same boat as a lot of the people in the YFBP - I
had many gaps in my education, like a lot of young farmers, so I made the call to go back to
“Once I did some study, I realised how important it is to know this stuff and you can’t just rely
on the accountant.
“To anyone out there who is thinking about getting into a farming business and looking at
this sort of stuff - the program is great and it’s also never too late to do formal study.”
Shannon said he was fortunate enough to be contacted by program coordinator Tim Flynn
after attending a YFBP event and, from there, the toolkit and videos (which feature Shannon)
Shannon said it was energizing to see young farmers setting their sites on something
different from previous generations.
“It’s not about just doing what your parents did, they’re actually opening up their eyes to the
options and the support that’s out there,” he said.
“It’s setting a solid foundation for the next generation of agriculture and showing that it’s not
just a lifestyle gig, it’s a business and it needs to be sustainable,” he said, adding young
farmers should feel like they’re on their own when it comes to learning about finances.
“They’re putting these tools to practice and that gives them the confidence to show the bank
that they know what they’re doing - and that’s why this program works.”
Shannon said having the right people around you to fill in the knowledge gaps and make a
business plan can also take the pressure off and allow young farmers to do what they love
most - farm.
“Don’t be afraid to employ someone to do the things you don’t like doing so, when the tough
times come on, you’re not trying to juggle everything alone - you’ll have a team around you
and a plan in place.”
For more information about the Young Farmer Business Program and to download the free
business templates, visit: youngfarmer.nsw.gov.au