Over the past few years the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) have aided Mary’s viticulture business in the Riverland to become more resilient to future shocks. Fluctuating weather conditions meant Mary had to deal with high unseasonal disease pressure and plant replacement. At a time of declining grape prices she found that these pressures put her business in an unsustainable financial position.
A Rural Financial Counsellor was able to assist Mary access financial help, manage her debt and demonstrate opportunities that she didn’t realise were available.
“It is invaluable to have help over a hard period. RFCS made such a difference financially. It has helped me pay back a loan and cover other costs. RFCS are user friendly and remove the stress involved. They provide a service that would be unaffordable through an accountant.”
Mary was able to obtain Drought Assistance and the Rural Financial Counsellor talked her through the application process. After an assessment of Mary’s business she discovered she qualified for an Australian Government grant through the SA River Murray Sustainability (SARMS) Program which she was unaware of.
With the SARMS grant, Mary was able to upgrade her irrigation systems to drippers. A more efficient watering system has reduced her water demand for the vineyard. The reduction in water use means Mary has cut her water costs and her business is impacting the environment less.
Access to grant funds has allowed Mary to put to use the funds she had set aside for irrigation upgrades. This has helped to stabilise debt and develop other areas of infrastructure, thereby improving the productivity of her business.
Mary is noticing the difference through the 2015 vintage. She is currently harvesting this year’s crop with steady yields and sustainable irrigation levels.
Engaging with the RFCS has given Mary a broader perspective of the viticulture industry. She has been able to get information from beyond her own business to look at the entire industry and the opportunities available. Mary is now planning for the future and identifying ways to grow her business beyond 2015.
“The real benefit is being able to talk over industry issues and receive help with the organisation. Without the assistance from the RFCS we would have missed out on opportunities that are helping us today.”