The 2013 Rabobank ‘Dr John Morris’ Business Development Prize has been awarded to a New South Wales cattle and lamb producer, who only returned to full-time farming in 2009 after a successful career as a landscape architect.
Awarded annually as part of the Rabobank Executive Development Program, this year’s prize was presented to Kate Waldren for her outstanding management project, which outlined steps to increase profits, efficiency and production at ‘Nandawar’, the 2100-hectare breeding and grazing operation she runs in partnership with husband Anthony in the Monaro region.
The award was presented to Ms Waldren at the graduation of the 2012/2013 Rabobank Executive Development Program, a leading agricultural business management program for progressive Australia and New Zealand primary producers.
Presenting the award, Rabobank Executive Development Program director Robin Stonecash said the quality and calibre of business management projects among this year’s participants was exceptional; however Ms Waldren’s project had particularly impressed with its clarity and sense of purpose.
Ms Waldren returned to the family farming operation in 2005, when she and her husband purchased the enterprise from her mother.
According to Ms Waldren, though they came into a really successful business, they needed to understand and improve the business, which involved identifying and improving their existing profit drivers, developing a strategy and business plan to set their business objectives and then implementing the actions to achieve them.
‘Nandawar’ consists of 1450 hectares of granite-based land at Nimmitabel with predominately improved pastures. The couple also additionally leases 495 hectares and manages 160 hectares of land on neighbouring properties.
The business’ main enterprise is Angus cattle production, concentrating on the replacement female and feeder steer markets, with ‘Nandawar’ currently running 600 breeding cows. The Waldrens also produce lamb and are increasing ewe numbers to up lamb production within their farm system.
The enterprise runs an annual average of 12,000 DSE, with the carrying capacity having improved since they took over the running of the property.
While Ms Waldren says the business plan will remain fluid to accommodate new learnings and adjustments, their business strategy focuses on maintaining a simple operation, producing a premium product and maintaining good pastures, resulting in higher DSE and kilograms produced per hectare.
The couple is also looking to expand their grazing operation to encompass additional landholdings in similar, ideally local, higher-rainfall areas, with good pasture and high carrying capacity.
Ms Waldren explains that the Executive Development Program has been a transformative experience, which has given her the confidence to realise they are on the right path with their business, as well as the knowledge and inspiration to help them improve and grow the enterprise further.
Ms Waldren adds that the diverse range of subjects covered in the course was a key strength of the program, as was the valuable opportunity it offered to interact with like-minded innovative agricultural producers from a range of commodities across Australia and New Zealand.
Now in its 14th year, the Rabobank Executive Development Program gives leading Australian and New Zealand farmers from a range of agricultural sectors the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.
The program covers all aspects of rural enterprise management to help drive sustainable business growth, including strategic goal setting, negotiating and people management.
The ‘Dr John Morris’ Business Development Prize is named in honour of the founding director of the program, John Morris who retired from the role last year.