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Beyond the Bale : Jun 07 - Jul 07
By Kellie Penfold Wilcannia grazier Garry Hannigan has become something of a poster boy for the Bestprac grower group program. He considers his eight years as a member of the Wilcannia Tilpa Bestprac group in western NSW as "life-changing", and says it has given him confidence to make changes in his enterprise that have kept him viable. "Without a doubt I wouldn't have gone on to apply to become a Nuffield Scholar if I hadn't gained the confidence that came from doing Bestprac," says Garry, who has spent the past year travelling overseas, studying international markets for organic lamb. He says that before the Bestprac group started he had never used consultants. Indeed, he had rarely used any advice on how to run his business: "We used to hide all our financials -- now we throw them out on the table, because being able to compare our businesses has meant most of us saving thousands of dollars by learning from others. Without this I would have been a farmer going nowhere, just treading water and losing equity instead of increasing it." With one newcomer, and five of the original six members still participating, the Wilcannia Tilpa group has evolved from focusing on woolgrowing to expanding into organic prime-lamb production alongside wool. The next target is the marketing of organic meat and wool for domestic and international markets. Garry, who is also a member of the National Producer Advisory Panel for the program, says all the members are passionate about their industry and have brought different strengths to the group: "Five of us market our lamb, and because we all moved through the organic accreditation process together it was much easier." He says the members now think nothing of jumping on a plane and going to Sydney to market their product or meet with people who can help their business. By assessing his business through Bestprac, Garry decided that most progress would be made by lifting productivity through improved lambing rates and good nutrition. Lifting lambing rates to 120 per cent has made a big difference to the bottom line on 'Churinga', his 49,000-hectare property. This allows him to sell 5000 lambs a year from his 5000-head Merino and Damara Dorper-cross ewe flock, while retaining 1000 young ewes as replacements. "This year I'm focusing on continually improving the quality and consistency of supply to a market, which often falls short at crucial times of the year. I'm also 4BESTPRAC PROGRAM BEYOND THE BALE Confidence rides on the sheep's back Garry Hannigan says that without the Bestprac grower group program, he would just be "a farmer going nowhere"
Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement
Apr 07 - May 07