Sharing risks

By Country News on August 30, 2017
  • Sharing risks

    Mansfield farmer Mark Ritchie will be a guest speaker at the Grassland Society of Southern Australia’s annual conference.

Mansfield farmer Mark Ritchie likes to buck the trend when it comes to managing risk and opportunity.

He will talk about this at the Grassland Society of Southern Australia’s annual conference at Nagambie on September 6 and 7.

Mr Ritchie will outline the best ways to invest on-farm to capitalise on good livestock prices.

A fourth generation farmer, he manages a self-replacing flock of 18600 Merino sheep and 1100 Angus cows on 2600ha at Mansfield.

In the 1990s when gloom surrounded the price of wool, the family farm invested in sheep and years later when the cattle market was low they bought more cattle.

‘‘We’re a bit counter-cyclical,’’ Mr Ritchie said.

‘‘Where we see an opportunity to buy or trade stock we do that. Often if we’ve seen a market downturn we’ve used that opportunity.

‘‘In the early 1990s, when the reserve price scheme for wool was unwinding, it was all doom and gloom but that was when we got into wool.

‘‘Then we increased the size of our cattle herd when we thought the market was at a bit of a low point.’’

At the conference, Mr Ritchie will explain how the family approaches risk and opportunity, although he admits what works for one may not work for another.

‘‘Everyone has their own tolerance or appetite for risk,’’ he said.

‘‘No two farmers are the same.

‘‘For us it’s about taking a long term view and finding a balance between taking calculated risks when the odds are in your favour; backing yourself and looking for opportunities in any situation; whether it’s a strong market or a weak market, a good season or a bad season.’’

The Ritchies have traditionally discussed options and called on consultants for expert advice — but ultimately made the decision themselves.

Recently the strong market for grazing enterprises has led Mr Ritchie to cash in.

‘‘In the last financial year we decided to sell a few extra cattle to capitalise on the prices, and we will again this year if the prices continue.’’

The conference will feature presentations from local practitioners and some of Australia’s best researchers.

It will include half-day bus trips to visit local farms and the society’s annual general meeting.

■The conference will be held at Mitchelton Winery, Nagambie on Wednesday, September 6 from 8.30am to 5.30pm, followed by a dinner; and on Thursday, September 7, starting with a breakfast from 7.30am.

■For more information, phone the Grassland Society of Southern Australia’s office on 1300 137 550, or email: [email protected]

By Country News on August 30, 2017
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