Build­ing a busi­ness from the ground up

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Rural Crime -

WITH beef in the blood and the de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed, Cen­tral Queens­land gra­ziers Gar­rett and Kate Kirk have put in the hard work to achieve their dream of own­ing and man­ag­ing their own suc­cess­ful beef en­ter­prise, Water­mark Pas­toral Co.

Based in Dingo, with coun­try also in Go­gango and Bluff, the Kirks run about 1500 breed­ers across their prop­er­ties where they fo­cus on get­ting the ge­net­ics right to en­sure their cat­tle are fer­tile, trop­i­cally adapted and high yield­ing, pro­duc­ing high qual­ity beef.

Grow­ing up on a prop­erty at Go­gango on the Fitzroy River, Gar­rett al­ways knew he wanted to run his own beef op­er­a­tion in the Cen­tral Queens­land re­gion.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing school he stud­ied at the Emer­ald Agri­cul­tural Col­lege be­fore work­ing for lo­cal crop­ping fam­i­lies and then re­turn­ing to man­age some of his par­ents’ prop­er­ties.

Af­ter meet­ing Kate, who en­joyed a ru­ral up­bring­ing in North­ern New South Wales where she de­vel­oped a love of horses, Gar­rett put plans in place to start their cat­tle trad­ing and breed­ing en­ter­prise.

"When start­ing out, our main mo­ti­va­tors were that we wanted to be self-sus­tain­able and able to work for our­selves," Gar­rett said.

Be­ing able to bring up their young fam­ily on the land and in­volve their chil­dren in their beef op­er­a­tion was also a high pri­or­ity for the Kirks.

"Part of the rea­son we do what we do is to be able to of­fer our kids the life­style that it does pro­vide,” Kate said.

“Our chil­dren are only young but they are very much part of the busi­ness and that’s one of the best things about the busi­ness we’re in, that we can work to­gether as a fam­ily.”

With dreams of own­ing their own land and cat­tle, the Kirks started off ag­ist­ing cat­tle and leas­ing land at Bluff while build­ing up their cat­tle num­bers to have enough eq­uity to pur­chase their own prop­erty.

In 2013, when land at Go­gango across the river from Gar­rett’s par­ents’ place be­came avail­able, Gar­rett and Kate knew it was the right time to pur­chase.

"It was quite daunt­ing when we were con­sid­er­ing start­ing our own busi­ness,” Kate said.

“The big­gest hur­dle was get­ting the de­posit and as­set base to­gether which we could bor­row against.”

Luck­ily, the Kirks knew that the Queens­land Ru­ral and In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity had low in­ter­est loans avail­able for young pro­duc­ers like them­selves to pur­chase their first prop­erty.

"Thank­fully, QRIDA’s First Start Loan was ac­ces­si­ble to us and that re­ally gave us the start­ing plat­form to launch into our own breed­ing en­ter­prise where Gar­rett could stop work­ing for wages and just fo­cus on our own busi­ness and ex­actly where we wanted to go," Kate said.

Soon af­ter pur­chas­ing their fat­ten­ing block at Go­gango the value of their land in­creased, al­low­ing them to bor­row ad­di­tional funds un­der their First Start Loan to pur­chase cat­tle.

"Our goal is to have a few thou­sand breed­ers so fer­tile cat­tle are in­te­gral in do­ing that," Gar­rett said.

"Those ex­tra cat­tle al­lowed us to bring our busi­ness up to a sus­tain­able level where we were self-sup­port­ing, could ser­vice all our debts and could re­ally start look­ing to­wards the next step and where we were go­ing to go next," Kate said.

"Gar­rett and I have al­ways been fairly driven and had a clear pic­ture of where we want to get to.

“We just needed to get over those first cou­ple of hur­dles back at the start of our ca­reer which is where QRIDA was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing us – then we were re­ally able to flour­ish and go ahead in leaps and bounds."

Af­ter many years of hard work and two young chil­dren in tow, Gar­rett and Kate are now in the po­si­tion to think more about ex­pand­ing their busi­ness, in­creas­ing their land hold­ings and fo­cus­ing on in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments to im­prove the pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity of their op­er­a­tions.

"There’s a lot of in­fra­struc­ture work that needs to hap­pen, like get­ting clean wa­ter to more parts of the prop­erty, fenc­ing off soil types and creeks and get­ting the ge­netic base of our herd up to the top end of the type of cat­tle that suit Cen­tral Queens­land," Gar­rett said.

The Kirks are grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties they have re­ceived as a re­sult of their QRIDA loan and en­cour­age other young pro­duc­ers in their po­si­tion to take the ini­tia­tive to look into what a First Start Loan could of­fer them.

First Start Loans pro­vide up to $2 mil­lion to cover cap­i­tal costs to as­sist pro­duc­ers make a start in pri­mary pro­duc­tion.

With low in­ter­est rates, up to 20 year re­pay­ment terms and no fees or charges, the loans are an at­trac­tive op­tion for young pro­duc­ers to start re­al­is­ing their farm­ing fu­ture.

Find out more at www.qrida.qld.gov.au or 1800 623 946.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

HELP­ING HAND: Thanks to a Queens­land Ru­ral and In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity First Start Loan, Gar­rett and Kate Kirk were able to de­velop their cat­tle trad­ing and breed­ing op­er­a­tion.

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