Business and risk management for farmers

Farm decision making tools

Farming is an increasingly competitive, complex and risky business. Climate change and the growing complexity of farm operations require a more considered approach towards preparing and adapting to future challenges. Making well-informed and timely decisions will help farming businesses prepare, build resilience and manage risks, regardless of the challenges ahead.

The following list of fact sheets, resources, contact details and links to websites have been sourced from PIRSA and other state and regional agencies, Federal Government, local councils, farming groups, as well as regional community health networks and service providers who are working together to deliver a comprehensive suite of information to support farm management decisions.

National Drought Program Reform

The recent adoption of the National Drought Program Reform highlights the importance of building the resilience and preparedness of farm businesses for drought and other hardships.

The Intergovernmental Agreement on the reform will implement:

  1. Farm household support payment
  2. Continued access to Farm Management Deposits (FMDs) and taxation measures
  3. A national approach to farm business training
  4. A coordinated, collaborative approach to the provision of social support services
  5. Farm decision making tools.

The agreement also acknowledges that there will be periods of extended dry where Governments will offer additional in-drought assistance and support for the health and wellbeing of farm businesses, families and communities.

Management of drought is largely about making sure your business is performing well no matter what the climatic conditions.

Here are some farm management decision  tools to help you do this:

Planning and managing business performance

The Australian Government’s Managing Farm Risk Programme provides rebates for advice and assessments to help farmers prepare and apply for a new insurance policy that assists with the management of drought and other production and market risks. For more information, including guidelines and application forms go to the Managing Farm Risk Programme. The programme is open until June 2019.

Additional business and risk management information can be found in the following:

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) have a number of factsheets on business planning and performance including:

  • Simple and effective business planning
  • Making effective business decisions
  • The benefit of separating land assets from the operating business.
  • Understanding a banks approach
  • Business performance
  • Drivers of profitability in farm businesses
  • How do you keep track of your farm business performance?
  • How do I know if my business is viable?
  • How secure is your farm business?
  • Best practice farm business management
  • Your farm business management checklist
  • Developing a farm business Balance sheet
  • Developing Cash-flow budget
  • Developing a Profit and loss budget
  • What your tax return tells you.

Tools to assist farmers to:

Stress test your farming business by understanding key financial ratios.

GRDC Farm business factsheets on strategic risk management:

  • Low risk farming initiative.
  • Machinery investment and costs.
  • Expanding farm scale –opportunities and risks.
  • Effective farming systems.
  • Sharefarming the pros and cons.
  • Using sheep to help balance risk.


Improving Water Use Efficiency

Sowing decisions

Spraying decisions

Weed management decisions

Pest animal management decisions

Disease management decisions

Insect management decisions

Nutrition management decisions

Livestock - pasture management

Getting more from your pastures

Pasture budgeting decisions

Livestock - sheep and cattle

Drought management

Managing livestock in dry times

A series of factsheets for Upper South East farmers to manage livestock and farm finances in dry seasons is now available for download. The following factsheets have been produced by PIRSA and Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources with the support of MacKillop Farm Management Group and Sheep Connect SA.

Drought management decisions

Managing weather and climate risk

With Climate Change it is predicted that extremes of weather and seasonal conditions, including droughts, floods, extreme heat and frosts are likely to increase. Understanding the tools available and following the forecasts and outlooks is vital for planning and managing the risks.

Short term weather

Weather forecasts
Water and land

Seasonal forecasts

Climate forecasts
Global climate models

Managing Climate risks

Climate Kelpie

Climate drivers

National Climate Dogs
Understand Climate

Climate change impact

South Australia’s future climate
Impact of climate change on different agricultural regions and industries

Adapting to Climate Change

Adapting to Climate Change / Climate Variability
Adapting to a more variable climate

Your people

Managing and supporting the people on your farm is vital to its success.

GDRC factsheets and guides include:

  • people factors driving farm decisions
  • succession planning
  • valuing your labour and management
  • building emotional resilience
  • taking care of your personal health
  • farm labour management
  • communications for farm families.

The Farm safety app provides a general guide to introducing safety for workers on most farms.

Related information

Farm suppport

Page Last Reviewed: 20 Jul 2016
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