Moving forward through troubled times

Fred* is a fruit and vegetable grower in the Northern Territory who approached RBS following the breakdown of his business partnership. While the breakup was congenial, it resulted in a requirement to significantly decrease the size of his enterprise as part of the settlement.

The partnership breakup also coincided with losing an off-farm source of income, as an element of their business was contract harvesting and spraying, and much of the machinery was retained by his partner.

Previously, the horticultural services part of the business contributed significantly to the repayment of business debts.

Dry conditions in the Territory over past few seasons coupled with the shortage of international seasonal workers and backpackers following COVID had been hard on the business, with profitability at its lowest in years.

Further, implications around the likely banning of dimethoate to manage fruit fly for mango producers could potentially impact Fred’s ability to service buyers in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Fred was motivated to proactively engage with the financial counselling process on referral from a contact at NT Farmers.

Fred was honest about the impact his financial situation was having on his wellbeing, and his Business Financial Counsellor (BFC) assisted him to connect with a medical professional, she also recommended he visit, a free online toolkit designed to help farmers cope effectively with life’s challenges.

With the support of his BFC, Fred developed some basic administrative skills. This made an immediate difference as Fred gained a better understanding of the areas of the business previously managed by his business partner.
Together, Fred and his BFC conducted a deep dive into the enterprise.

After several appointments to model different financial scenarios, Fred gained a clear understanding of which of his fruit and vegetable crops were profitable, which were costing him too much to produce, and which he needed to retain for specific long-term contracts. He also strengthened relationships with other local growers by subcontracting his packing facilities to them.

Fred and his BFC worked together to set realistic production goals and to develop a business plan. As a result, Fred has successfully pivoted production and his enterprise. He is reducing debt and has developed new skills and business capabilities.