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Hard work, determination, experience and a solid business plan weren’t enough to get Nic and Keryn Crompton their own cattle farm… until NAB backed their ambition with a Future Farmers loan.
Nic and Keryn Crompton are a picture-perfect example of the next generation of Australian farmers. They’ve built up a breeding herd of Brangus cattle over eight years, have plenty of experience under their belts across different sectors of the livestock industry, and are devoted to their dreams.
“We love farming, love agriculture, and we love the lifestyle,” Nic says.
“And that’s what we want to give the rest of our lives to – and raise our kids doing.”
But it’s only recently that the couple have managed to get onto their own property, in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, with the help of a Future Farmers loan from NAB.
The lot has the capacity to run up to 375 cattle, but the couple plan to diversify their land and potential income with some hay production, as well as putting in forage crops. By slightly understocking the property, Nic and Keryn think they’ll have more resilience to drought.
“The long-term goals are to have that land roughly 70 per cent stocked with a breeding herd,” Nic says.
“And then during the growing season, we can trade that other 30 per cent. We always like to keep 30 per cent of that stock expendable; if it does get a little bit dry, we can sell at the drop of a hat and not lose the genetics that we’re trying to build up with our breeding mob.”
Keryn and Nic have already put together a sizeable herd, after agisting them on as many as eight paddocks dotted around the region. This grazing arrangement with other landowners gave the couple a start, but it wasn’t an easy path.
“You have to understand the landlord, find out what their driving factors are, what their place needs, and try and offer that so that you can secure the paddock,” Nic says.
For Nic, who has experience in fencing, that often meant working with landlords on paddock improvements.
“So that’s installing fencing, gateways, redoing the yards if that’s what it needed, so that it was stockproof for our mob but increased the value of their property at the same time,” he explains.
“At other times we offered to pay up-front as well.”
While the couple loved having the opportunity to get a start, having their herd together on their own property will save them fuel costs, driving time and a lot of stress. But accessing a loan was a challenge in itself.
“For three or four years, we’d been trying to find a way around the barriers,” Nic says. “And there just wasn’t an option available until we found Future Farmers.”
One of the biggest hurdles was the strict requirements of most loan structures. Nic and Keryn have plenty of experience with beef production, as well as equity in their own herd. But many lenders would not consider offering a loan until the majority of their income came from farming instead of salaries.
“We both needed to be working full-time to support our farming. Nearly every institution won’t look at you for a loan, because they don’t cater for that kind of lifestyle,” Keryn explains.
“We’d done a lot of projections, worked out future cash flow and everything. We’d done every spreadsheet under the sun to try and make sure it would work.
“And NAB actually looked at that, and understood we’re going to buy this lot, then trade, and so on. And they took it all into account, which made a huge difference.”
But even now that they’re on the land, the couple won’t be giving up their day jobs. They love their work, as well as the diversity of income it provides.
“We’ve obviously taken a risk jumping into such a large debt, in this financial climate,” Nic says. “So if interest rates rise, or the cattle market drops, having a stable monthly wage gives us a little bit of security.”
And the flexible structure of the Future Farmers loan fits around their business plans.
“One of the biggest points for us was that NAB were willing to take a smaller deposit out of the equity of our existing place and structure the loan over an extended term,” Nic says.
“Most commercial rural loans only run 15-year terms, and that obviously made it a lot harder. The Future Farmers loan has a lower deposit, generally a lower interest rate, and a 25-year term. NAB also gave us interest-only for three years, which allows us to buy more cows and get up to full production, and then switch to principal and interest after.”
The pair are also planning to take advantage of their Future Farmers loan’s variable repayment structures to fit around their trading season and optimise their cash flow.
“It’s great to see that somebody is doing something to help young people get back into agriculture,” Nic says.
“Because it’s a goal and a dream for a lot of people, but it just seems so unattainable. So it’s good to see that there is actually a path there. And we’ve seen it happen firsthand.”
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