Ag consultant weighs odds

Ag consultant weighs odds


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GROUNDWORK: Consultant and farmer Linda Eldredge says a strong agricultural sector needs decisions that take profitability and sustainabiluity into account.

GROUNDWORK: Consultant and farmer Linda Eldredge says a strong agricultural sector needs decisions that take profitability and sustainabiluity into account.

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FARMER and consultant Linda Eldredge developed a keen interest in the business side of agriculture, and threw all her energy into it.

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FARMER and consultant Linda Eldredge developed a keen interest in business and analytics growing up on a pig, poultry and broadacre farm at Riverton in the Mid North.

"The pig and poultry industries in particular have always been a step ahead in analysing their production data," she said.

"My father was very involved in looking at production efficiencies on the farm and he gave me that passion for focusing on the management side of farming and trying to drive a strong agricultural sector."

After travelling overseas, Linda returned to Clare, where she and her husband run a mixed cropping and sheep property. They also have land in the Upper North, near Jamestown.

Linda has a 12-year career in the banking industry, working in the lending sector, in particular.

When her two children were young, Linda returned to education as a mature-age student, to complete a degree at the University of Adelaide.

She completed the now-defunct course, a Bachelor of Rural Enterprise Management, by travelling back and forth to Adelaide over six years.

"I was originally going to go back to study agricultural science, but it was the management and innovation side of things that really interested me, which is why I continued on with my studies and eventually graduated with an MBA," Linda said.

She went on to work for various training organisations after her studies, before launching her own business - Eldredge and Associates - which brings training and consultancy services to the rural sector right across the nation.

"We don't have enough agribusiness education capacity in rural areas, particularly in applied education," she said.

Linda travelled overseas as part of her Nuffield Scholarship, looking at real-time decision-support tools.

"We were already using some of these tools in making decisions on our property. By having that firsthand experience on our property, I can go out and help other businesses," she said.

One project Eldredge and Associates is working on at the moment is to help set up home-based farm businesses.

"We're finding a lot of rural women in particular are struggling to find off-farm work," Linda said.

"We're losing retail stores in regional areas to the internet.

"This training focuses on building brands, logos and how to run a business from home."

Linda believes there are plenty of opportunities to keep youth on the land.

"We've seen a couple of generations step away from agriculture but I believe there is a new group of the younger generation stepping back towards it," she said.

"But we need to move away from old models and move into new business models, and a part of that includes having off-farm income."

* Full report in Stock Journal, July 31, 2014 issue.

The story Ag consultant weighs odds first appeared on Farm Online.

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