The Australian Farm Institute held its mid-year conference in Canberra on the 3rd and 4th of June 2014.This conference brought together leaders in Australian agriculture and agribusiness and provided a unique opportunity to learn about and discuss the strategic issues shaping the sector.

Download the program, or download the Speaker Profiles here.

Sessions for the 2014 conference included:

Farm funding overview: The future success of the Australian farm sector depends on the financial performance of the sector, and the sector’s ability to attract finance or investment funding for increasing productivity. This session will review the financial performance of farm businesses and the farm sector and provide a clear understanding of the current industry situation. 
  • Karen Schneider, Executive Director, ABARES
  • Graeme McConnell, Consultant Director, Planfarm
  • David Sackett, Managing Director, Growth Farms Australia
International farm funding models: Australian farm businesses are predominantly owner-operated with debt financing. Internationally, a much greater range of different models are employed, which entail both debt and equity funding, as well as a range of different variations of these. This session will involve presentations from international experts detailing the financing models that operate in overseas locations, and which may have some application to Australian farming.
  • Marcelo Fernandes Guimarães, Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Economics, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply of Brazil
  • Michael Whitehead, Director of Global Agribusiness Research, ANZ Banking Group
  • Ben Russell, Chief Executive Officer, Rabobank New Zealand
Funding agribusiness: The Australian agribusiness sector has been under considerable pressure over the past decade, with the millennium drought and international competition squeezing margins. This pressure has led to a rationalisation of agribusiness, with an increase in overseas investment, and consolidation of major operations in different sub-sectors. This session will examine some of the macro trends driving change, and consider potential future responses by businesses.
  • Stuart Hooper, Managing Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers Melbourne
  • Ben Craw, Director, PPB Advisory
Australian agribusiness case studies: Australia has a diverse range of agricultural sub-sectors with a range of different funding models. This session will provide industry examples of current and future funding models for different sub-sectors of Australian agriculture.
  • Michael Blakeney, Investment Director, Blue Sky Water Partners
  • Barry Irvin, Executive Chairman, Bega Cheese
  • Alick Osborne, Chief Executive Officer, Tully Sugar
A perspective from the United States: The United States (US) has one of the largest farming sectors in the world, and the US farm sector has distinctly different funding models to those employed in Australia. The dinner speaker will provide a detailed presentation on financing models and trends in US agriculture.
  • Greg Noonan, Head of Agribusiness & Health – Business Markets, National Australia Bank
Investor perceptions of Australian agriculture: The attraction of an investor to a sector not only depends on financial performance but also on issues like government policy and potential risks. This session will include presenters with first-hand knowledge of the needs and requirements of potential investors in Australian farming and agriculture.
  • David Williams, Managing Director, Kidder Williams Ltd
  • Dr Sacha Vidler, Chief Economist, Industry Super
  • Frank Delahunty, Director, F & L Delahunty Pty Ltd
The role of risk management in funding arrangements: There are a range of different risk management tools available to participants in agricultural supply chains, and many of these either operate in conjunction with different funding mechanisms, or can reduce the need for additional finance. This session will consider what risk management options are available, and the potential for these to play a role in financing agriculture.
  • Adam Tomlinson, Senior Research Officer, Australian Farm Institute
  • Matt Clarke, Senior Risk Manager, Intl FCStone
  • Andrew Trotter, Chief Executive Officer, Latevo International
A long-term asset perspective: Participants in the agricultural sector generally make investment decisions over a 10 to 15 year time horizon, necessitating what is referred to as ‘patient capital’. This session will involve discussion about the strategies and experiences of long-term investors in Australian agriculture.
  • John Baker, Chief Executive Officer, First Agriculture Holdings Pty Ltd, Singapore
  • Ross Kingwell, Chief Economist, AEGIC and Department of Agriculture and Food WA
  • Mike Logan, Chief Executive Officer, Dairy Connect
Closing panel: An expert panel reviewed the main lessons emerging from preceding conference sessions, and answered the critical question: What will it take to ensure Australian agriculture’s future is adequately funded?

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