Ensuring a smooth transition to the next generation is important to Ashburton farmer John Shearer, and Cashmanager RURAL online is a vital part of the handover process.
John and his wife Margaret, who began their farming careers in 1973 on a small leasehold block and slowly grew a large farming enterprise, have a son and daughter-in-law and daughter and son-in-law taking up the reins at the family’s two dairy farms.
While he is keen for his children to take ownership and use the Cashmanager RURAL programme themselves, the online access means John can monitor their progress and offer help, if needed.
The Shearers started using Cashmanager RURAL in the early 90s and use it for financial recording and budgeting, in order to know their financial position and where they are spending their money.
John updates his budget every month. “It’s the most important thing I do on farm. That’s what I’m trying to pass on to the young ones, you can grow the grass but the most important thing I do is record what we’ve spent for the month and revise the budget each month.”
When they started out the Shearers had 1000 ewes and over 41 years of farming they built up their operation, eventually converting to dairy. “We’ve developed a large enterprise with 2500 cows and now we are passing on the skills of growing grass and milking cows, they are learning from the grass roots up. But they also know they need to manage the business and keep it in the family for the next generation. They have to get a grasp on the financial implications of what they are doing.”
John is keen to pass on financial skills as well as practical ones. “You can always employ someone to milk the cows or get expertise about fertiliser, but the basic thing is understanding the business – and that’s not something you can buy. You can ask the bank manager or accountant for help, but you need to do your own budgeting and figures.”
As part of the transition John and his children have attended recent Cashmanager RURAL courses, and he wishes he had done them sooner. “The coding and being able to download from the bank and Ashburton Trading Society is so good, it’s carved about 90% of the work off. It’s made it so easy.”
For John, keeping himself up to speed is important. “I want to be able to tell them the correct way to do things…I realised I was actually behind. Now it’s a lot easier to understand, they (his children) can do all the data loading and I can just go through and check that the coding is correct.
“With it being online they can do the program 30 miles away and my role now is to go through and check. It’s certainly a great way to get these guys involved and understanding their business.”
The Shearers are one example of a family working through the challenge of transitioning to the next generation and equipping their children with the financial management skills to understand and run a profitable business, helping keep the assets they worked so hard to build in the family for years to come.
They are fortunate that their children have a passion for the industry and, with the help of Cashmanager RURAL, they can manage the handover smoothly.