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The Chalker Family

Posted by Rabobank Australia on

21/07/2023

After six generations farming sheep on the wind swept hills of the Wombeyan Caves in New South Wales, Peter and Alison Chalker made the decision to head west and escape the encroachment of urban land prices.

The move was made over two decades ago but even then the Chalkers said land prices had reached astronomical heights due to the region's proximity to Sydney.

“Property prices around Taralga had gotten to a point where the land was worth more than you could make off it,”

“It was unsustainable and made expansion near impossible and we were after country that was a bit more reliable and capable of greater diversity in production’.”

After identifying a suitable property near Cowra in NSW, the Chalkers relocated and have invested considerably in improving infrastructure on the property and gradually expanding their operations.

It was at this point of major change that the family joined Rabobank as clients.

"We bought ‘Woorilla’ in 1996 and joined the Dubbo branch at that point but the bank has since opened a branch in Orange," Mrs Chalker said.

"We've always found Rabo excellent to deal with, they employ people who know the land, who know agriculture.”

"We find that we tend to be able to talk to the same person instead of getting a different person whenever you call."

"We also like that the bank manager really gets to know you and your operation."

It is an operation that has continued to grow and diversify since the Chalkers first took it on.

With their property covering 930 hectares and with an additional 530 hectares under lease, they run a mixed operation compromised of beef cattle, sheep, Lucerne hay and cropping.

“The better soil in this region has enabled us to diversify as we intended, and has enabled us to have a decent annual cash flow and greatly reduced our risk exposure,”

"We've developed some good ongoing relationships with buyers, particularly with Coles and Woolworths who are the major buyers of our lamb," Mrs Chalker said.

The Chalkers buy in around 6000 store lambs each year and fatten or agist them to nearby properties with contracts with the two major supermarkets.

They use some of their hay and feed for their own stock but predominately sell it to local dairy producers and other graziers, with 215 hectares of irrigation supporting production.

"While we're always going to see risk in farming I think we have done the best we can to keep that risk as low as we can."

The Chalker family also have custodianship of the Goodwin Swamp, a natural lagoon on the property that is home to numerous species of native birds.

"lt's a beautiful spot and we have wildlife photographers who often want to take pictures of the birds; we have put in a levy bank to maintain the water for longer and to prevent it running out on to the paddock," Mrs Chalker said.

This holistic approach to the management of the environment in which they farm is one that they see reflected in Rabobank's approach.

"We been fortunate to attend some of Rabobank's events such as the 2016 Farm to Fork conference in Sydney and we are always impressed by how committed the bank is, not just to farmers, but to every aspect of agriculture and food supply," she said.

"Seeing the possibilities for agriculture in Australia is always so invigorating and we hope to be able to continue along the p