For the last decade, Australian farmer John Gladigau has combined his farm operation, finances and passion with a neighboring farmer, Robin Schaefer. Their collaborative farming operation, Bulla Burra, spans 27,000 acres and produces cereals, legumes and canola near the southern Australia town of Loxton.
Gladigau, who is a student and advocate of collaborative farming, says this is a model for farms in the future. “Collaboration creates a synergy that can drive businesses to a whole different level,” he says.
How do you create a successful collaborative business? Gladigau offers this advice.
- Find people you know you can easily work with and take time to ensure you are compatible.
- Take the time to get the model and arrangements correct. You’ll need at least a year, he says.
- Ensure the economics stack up by doing comprehensive modeling. Each farmer brings different debt structures and attitudes to risk.
- Appoint an independent voice within the business, such as a non-farming manager or advisor.
- Everything needs to be commercial. Pay yourself a commercial wage and pay market-value leases and terms.
- Focus on relationships and ensure everyone is valued and heard.
Watch a video about Bulla Burra:
Want to learn more about collaborative farming? Read these articles:
Collaborative Cost-cutting: Formally Farming Together
Farming's Next Frontier
Is Collaborative Growth For You?
The Bottom Line: Team Up, Save Money