HIS father was forced to give up his property but Richmond’s Corbett Tritton is the first person to say he has a good rapport with his bank.
Next weekend’s Western Queensland Drought Appeal in Longreach will throw the spotlight back on the drought afflicting western Queensland. Suncorp Bank, one of the sponsors, is keen to remind producers of the importance of talking with their banks.
Luke McWhirter of Suncorp at Richmond, said he had spent the past six months and 50,000km driving to help clients plan for anticipated cash shortages. “When it rains this will be especially noticeable. People will be getting back to production,” he said.
He said Corbett and Beris Tritton were producers who had anticipated these shortages and put a plan in place to counteract them.
“Corbett’s operation has a large irrigation asset, which has really increased his financial flexibility,” he said. “He’s been using that for silage to feedlot cattle, and has been propping up his cashflow with mungbean plantings.
“It was a case of identifying risks and peak cash flows, and trying to come to a goal that suits.”
That included financing a new harvester, which removed the need to irrigate a large area in one hit to make it worthwhile for contractors, using all available water.
“Now he can plant smaller amounts and use his water more efficiently.”
Mr Tritton has bought Silver Hills back from the bank and has taken up neighbouring country since then.
“We had a failed cotton crop, the live export ban and then drought. We had to be talking to our bank through all that. I grew up with a view that you took the money banks offered. Now I say to the banks, if you feel we need to do things differently, speak up,” he said.
“The minute I can’t talk to my manager I’ll walk out the door. The banks need us here to make money, and we’ve got to borrow to get ahead. We need each other.”
Suncorp agribusiness head Troy Constance said the recent slowdown in the Chinese economy and the high US dollar were underpinning predictions that the Australian dollar could fall further, presenting opportunities for local producers.
“The weaker dollar, a growing appetite for quality Australian produce including meat, sugar, wheat and dairy, and the hope of rain in the coming months should encourage producers to remain optimistic about the seasonal changes ahead,” he said.
“It also means producers and agribusiness owners should revisit their business plan to ensure they are in a strong position to take advantage of a good season.
“Producers need a level of support to get them through until the season changes, but they also need a clear and funded plan to restore productivity. That means including their bank as part of their business advice network and talking regularly and genuinely about the support they need.”
Mr Constance said beef producers impacted by drought faced particular challenges in restocking with beef prices at record highs.
“At some point the dry season will end, and businesses need to remain focused on how they plan to rebuild productivity and profitability.
“It’s about deciding on the best use of available cash and agreeing on a plan for when it does rain.”