Debt and productivity more of an issue for producers than cattle or beef prices

Beef Central, 26/10/2012


Crippling debt and low productivity are the main issues affecting Northern beef producers, and focussing attention on these challenges will do more for their businesses than concentrating on optimising cattle pricing, according to agribusiness expert Phil Holmes.

The average Northern beef producer was spending more than they earned, with industry profitability (or lack of it) at levels not seen since the beef crash in the 1970s.

"Even if the businesses make a profit, in a lot of cases this is chewed-up by the bank debt interest Bill," Mr Holmes said.

However there are highly profitable beef businesses ‘out there’ and they all had one thing in common: they had made the effort to acquire the business skills needed to create wealth.

Mr Holmes believes these skills are different to those needed for herd management, but are not hard to learn.

Hughenden beef producer, Jean RobinsTo equip beef producers with these business skills, Meat & Livestock Australia commissioned Mr Holmes to develop a Business Management course specifically for producers in Northern Australia.

This package, the BusinessEDGE workshop, gives producers skills and knowledge to better understand and improve their business performance. Hundreds of producers have attended the workshop across Northern Australia since it was launched two years ago.

One of those was Jean Robins from Hughenden, who said workshop along with the follow-up she received changed the way she and her family saw their business.

“It gave us a really clear understanding of our business, where we were doing well and where we needed to focus our attention. I now feel more confident in making informed decisions in the management of our business,” she said.

In the workshop producers learn how to:

  • Determine if their business is economically sustainable in the long term and what to do about it
  • Determine if all family needs and aspirations can be funded by the business
  • Determine if your debt is creating or destroying wealth and how much of it your business can afford
  • Provision for succession and retirement so that each event is fully funded
  • Allocate rationally for capital expenditure projects so that assets increase in value over time and cashflows improve
  • Determine if your herd is performing as it should and what to do about it if it is not.

There are three remaining BusinessEDGE workshops scheduled for 2012, being delivered by Bush AgriBusiness. Programsd will be run in Rockhampton on November 19-20; Townsville on November 22-23 and Toowoomba on November 27-28.

  • To register for one of the BusinessEDGE courses, producers can contact Jackie Kyte on 07 5482 4368 or email
  • For more information, contact Ian McLean, Bush AgriBusiness on 0401 118 191 or email



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