Ben Watson is a fifth generation farmer and the director of his family’s farming business, Allabah Farming near Wee Waa in north-western NSW. With a strong desire to take his business to the next level and hone his management skills, Ben applied to participate in Rabobank’s week-long Farm Managers Program.
We speak to Ben about his experience with the Program and the lessons learnt along the way:
Nerida: What inspired you to apply for the Farm Managers Program?
Ben: I was motivated to take the family farm to the next level and was keen to learn and make some changes.
Nerida: What did you learn from the Farm Managers Program that you could apply to your business?
Ben: Firstly, that I should have done the program earlier as it equipped me with the practical tools to implement straight back into the business and gave me an armful of contacts as it brought together some of Australia and New Zealand’s most progressive young farmers.
We have since expanded the farm and now have more staff, so for me, the most beneficial sessions were the ones around communication and managing people.
The course not only reinforced the importance of effective communication, with Allabah Farming now hosting weekly planning meetings with its team, but also showed the importance of involving staff in the decision making. Also, there are different dynamics when working with family, and I am not only working alongside my parents, but my cousin is our cotton manager and my best mate from school also works with us.
Nerida: What was the most valuable part of the program?
Ben: The planning sessions were invaluable. Also, having the opportunity to learn alongside some of the most progressive young farmers was the biggest advantage of attending the program. I have now built an extensive networking of farmers from a broad range of agriculture sectors.
Nerida: What did you learn from the other participants that could help you and your farming operation?
Ben: Even though we all came from completely different businesses and enterprises, we found we were all facing similar issues – particularly around managing staff and expanding our business. My interaction with the other liked minded farmers and the program’s lecturers, as well as the opportunity to visit an innovative local poultry operation through the farm tour component of the program emphasised the benefit of ‘face-to-face learning, in an era of e-learning. I keep in touch with a few that did the course and might even get over to New Zealand to visit some of them on their farms.
Should you apply for the Farm Management Program?
Speak to your rural manager to learn more about our Business Management Programs or visit our information page here.