Producers who Inspire: The Fernance Family
If you ask Glenn Fernance why he loves farming so much, he will tell you it’s all about the lifestyle.
“Surprisingly, we don’t come from a big farming background, we are a family of electricians and builders by trade.”
“We’ve always been from the country and loved the land, so we were thrilled when the opportunity arose for my family, my brother Mick’s family and our parents to start farming full-time,” he said.
A mixed enterprise farming operation, the Fernance’s four properties are located east from the township of Bellata in New South Wales, compromising of 5,000 hectares of prime agricultural land.
The Fernance operation is extensive, running a small beef cattle operation on spare pastures and growing a wide range of crops including high protein wheat, sorghum, durum semolina, chickpeas, cotton and from time-to-time canola rotated depending on seasonal and on-farm conditions.
“Crop rotation allows us to keep strong, healthy soils, and ward off pests without the use of heavy pesticides,” said Mr Fernance.
“We are very lucky to be able to change up our crops each season depending on the conditions, this allows us to maximise the use of our land and also strengthen the health of our soil by maximising the nitrogen when growing legumes,” he said.
With the challenging weather patterns over the last 12 months and a wet end to the 2022 harvest, Mr Fernance weighed in on the importance of being agile as a farmer.
“If there’s one thing you learn quickly being a farmer, it’s that you can never plan too far ahead.”
“Volatile weather, supply chain issues, labour force shortages, and more can all impact your day-to-day operations, which means its best to be flexible with whatever the day is going to throw at you,” he said.
“We have a beautiful patch of land that provides top-quality wheat and good harvest yields and have planted heavily again this year in the hope for a bumper crop!” said Mr Fernance.
“We’re lucky to be located on slopy country, so we are pretty well drained and hopefully are set up to have a good chance to get by the wet weather in stall for the end of the year. It’s hard to tell how the season will pan out but it will definitely be a late harvest.”
“We planted much later than usual this year and will be harvesting right through to early next year if all things go to plan,” he said.
When asked about the challenges of farming, Mr Fernance said the past few years have shown the importance of having a strong support network around you.
“The weather is always going to be a challenge and something we have to work with in agriculture,
I would say one of the harder challenges we have had to face this year is the turbulent supply chains and lack of steady work-force in the regions,” Mr Fernance told The Cultivator.
“Our success comes down to the amazing, hard-working, genuine and motivated people we are able to work with every day. It’s also one of the reasons we love supplying our high-protein wheat directly into Manildra Group’s Bellata grain storage site,” he said.
When asked about the future of the family business, Mr Fernance said he and his brother Mick always have plans for expansion.
“We would love to continue to grow our operations, however it is all about doing it the right way, and for now, that means securing a workforce of reliable workers and safeguarding the next generation of our farming enterprise,” he said.
“We’ve got kids at school, and it would be fantastic if they one day wanted to come back to the property in the future, but for now we’ve got plenty left in the tank and enjoy every day on the farm!” he said.
With their proximity to Manildra Group’s Bellata grain storage site, the Fernance’s are thrilled to be working so closely with the family-owned business with Mr Fernance describing Manildra Group’s purchasing of the Bellata grain storage site as “the best thing that has happened to the town and our business operations in years.”
“We love that Manildra Group is a family-owned Australian business and you can really see that in their relationship between their staff on-site and relationships with growers.”
“We are so lucky to have such close access to efficient and local storage solutions for our high-protein wheat,” he said.
Manildra Group Head Grain Buyer Peter Sloan said the Fernance’s were great operators and a delight to work so closely with.
“They do a great job each season, these are the kind of relationships we try to cultivate at Manildra Group – long lasting, genuine business relationships where we all do right by each other,” Mr Sloan said.
The Fernance’s high-protein wheat is sent by rail to Manildra Group’s world-class Shoalhaven Starches site located in the south coast town of Nowra, New South Wales, where it is used to make a variety of end products for a wide range of customers in Australia and across the globe.
“We seek out the best high-protein wheat on the market to ensure we can mill the best flour to make the most versatile range of products,” said Mr Sloan.
“As we look back on seven decades of Manildra Group history, we reflect on our long-standing business relationships and communities in which we operate. It is these partnerships that enable us to succeed as a family-owned business through the unpredictable nature of agriculture so we can forge the foundations of our shared success,”
said Mr Sloan.
To contact Manildra Group’s wheat grain specialists, phone 1300 MANILDRA.