USING a finance broker has proven to be the logical choice for David and Mary Booth, who have recently expanded their organic farming enterprise in southern NSW.
The Booths purchased their Cootamundra district property, ‘Buronga’, in 2002 after spending about 20 years grazing sheep, cattle and goats between Ivanhoe and Cobar as part of a family partnership.
“When we purchased ‘Buronga’, it was in conversion to organic certification,” David says. “We were very interested in organic production and we decided to continue with the certification.
“We were quite used to minimal-input farming when we were in the Western Division. For us, the appeal is that it’s a natural way of farming. We are passionate about organic farming and renewable agriculture.”
The 1600 ha property comprises 480 ha of private native vegetation, 1000 ha of arable land and 120 ha of grazing country that supports prime lamb, goat, beef and cropping enterprises. “We sell livestock through a variety of channels, including saleyards, over the hook and direct to butchers, while our grain is sold to certified organic mills,” David says.
Maintaining Australian Certified Organic certification involves annual auditing of every aspect of the farm and its management, including all farm inputs, such as livestock movements, feed, animal health products and fertilisers.
About a year ago, the Booths were presented with a rare opportunity to expand, when a 3000 ha certified organic property came up for sale at Rankins Springs. “Mary and I had been looking how we could grow our business to help increase our scale of production,” David says.
“We looked at the property, which had been certified organic since 2009. The vendors were really keen to see the certification continued and also wanted a young family to maintain youth in the community that would support the school and bus run.
“They accepted our offer, subject to finance, and we approached our business banker at Wagga Wagga. Our bank wanted a better understanding of our plans and asked us to do a bit more work. Then our accountant suggested we contact a finance broker.
“We spent a few hours with Richard Hewitt from Nimbus and decided to proceed with a credit application. He came back and spent a day with us to go through the figures in detail and prepare a three-year cash flow projection.
“Applying for loans is stressful and time-consuming. Richard took the pressure out of the situation. He knew what we were trying to do, but more importantly, what the banks wanted to know. He put our proposal to a number of banks.
“Our bank went from being somewhat lukewarm to enthusiastic. They even came out and had a look at the new property. We ended up getting the finance we wanted from our existing bank and on more favourable terms – everyone was happy.
“All in all, it was a very amicable purchase. We recently did a 12-month review and Richard’s figures were spot-on. We presented them to our bank and we haven’t heard back, so we take that as good news!”
The new farm, which is managed by the Booths’ daughter and son-in-law, Louisa and Brad Brown, supports 760 ha of cropping, Merino ewes joined to White Suffolk or Dorset rams and 135 Angus and Angus-cross cows, whose progeny will be marketed through ‘Buronga’.