Sam helping drive agriculture’s new frontier
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Sam helping drive agriculture’s new frontier

Category Our People

Sam Heaney with son on a tractor

Agricultural prospects across Southern NSW are soaring as farmers enjoy the holy grail of a favourable season aligned with strong commodity prices, and Rabobank’s Sam Haeney believes there’s still a wealth of opportunity yet to be explored across the region.

With a keen interest in sustainable agriculture, Sam, a Rural Manager in the region, said local farmers were well-placed to take advantage of any potential future sustainability-based business outcomes.

“I feel really lucky to work with so many progressive farmers in the region, they’re forward thinking and many already understand the importance of technology and on-farm data collection,” he says.

It’s this data, Sam believes, that will ensure farmers are already on the front-foot when it comes to capitalising on sustainability outcomes.

“It has been an enjoyable learning curve supporting one of the first registered soil carbon projects in Australia, and working with clients embarking on tree plantations, vegetation projects and locking up biodiversity conservation credits.

With memories of the recent drought still lingering, Sam said there was an even greater focus on sustainability and drought proofing to ensure businesses were better placed come the next dry spell.

“Over the past two years in particular I’ve seen how clients are starting to integrate sustainable practices into their operations, and it’s exciting to be on this path with them,” Sam says.

“It’s an interesting time, and there are certainly still challenges realising agriculture’s sustainability capabilities – it’s a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario – but there’s certainly an enthusiasm towards farming more efficiently, and smarter.”

Ultimately, he believes this renewed focus on efficiency will prove the real benefit for farmers.

“More than any associated cash flow from carbon projects, I think the use of technology and data to increase efficiencies and production will ultimately represent the greatest value to our farmers, and the environment,” he said.

Growing up across a number of regions and commodities – his early years were spent in the nearby Bungendore district before his family moved to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula to farm raspberries, with his parents now based in the New England – Sam has always enjoyed an appreciation for Australian agriculture.

However it wasn’t until early in his career, working in an agricultural consultancy role, that he really gained an insight into the strength of Australian agriculture.

“For two years I had the opportunity to travel throughout Canada and the US visiting broadacre farms, cattle operations and feedlots, and it certainly opened my eyes to how efficient our Australian industry is in comparison.”

While he said Canada boasted a similar grains industry, he said the livestock industry across both Canada and the US still had a lifestyle element to it, and observed, a ‘cowboy’ approach that ‘doesn’t sit hand-in-hand with the production efficiencies we enjoy here in Australia.”

Inspired to help support Australian farmers at the farm-gate level, Sam joined Rabobank in 2016 and now works between the Sydney and Goulburn branches.

“Having worked in my previous job throughout the supply chain and closely with industry bodies, I was really keen to get back on the front line, growing relationships and supporting farmers’ business development – Rabobank represented the perfect fit.”

And with Rabobank’s David Haydon his parent’s first bank manager, Sam had an understanding of the bank’s commitment to agriculture, and its clients, that had always proved appealing.

“The fact my parents – who covered a few different regions during their career, and are now largely retired – still have fond memories of their first bank manager really speaks volumes, and I’m proud to now be building those same relationships with a new generation of the region’s farmers.”

“There’s nothing I love more than being on the road and meeting clients, and I’m always fascinated seeing how they approach their farm business – ultimately many farms are the same, but their business strategies and individual workings are always different, and it’s these nuances within farm businesses that I find so interesting.”

“A key part of my role, and Rabobank’s, is to help upskill our clients and to be that conduit of knowledge and examples, so they’re in a position where they can confidently make decisions about the direction of their business.”

“I’m passionate about supporting commercial agricultural businesses upon which the region was born, ensuring client's businesses thrive and that they are equipped with all the tools necessary to contribute to, and capitalise from, the next chapter of sustainable agriculture.”