QRIDA First Start Loan helps beef producers get their foot in the door
Tucked away in the forest country in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Tim and Sasha Thornbury are building the foundations of their own beef business with the help of a First Start Loan.
Administered by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA), Tim says they accessed the First Start Loan to expand their breeder herd numbers and put them on the right track to reaching their long-term business goals.
“We had 250 head of breeders and it was at that point where our resources were starting to dry out with what we could do. We found QRIDA, and with finance from a First Start Loan, we have been working to increase our breeder herd numbers from 250 to 500.
“Once we get to 500 breeders, we’re going to have a good number of weaners every year that we can turn off and have options with whether we start retaining heifers which is what we would like to do or start selling them and buying mature age heifers to go into calf and eventually we will be pushing up around the 1000-breeder herd every year,” he said.
Tim and Sasha lease property from their employers, Luke and Helen Simmons, of Haydon Station, 50 kilometres east of Normanton.
“We don’t have family in the cattle industry, so it was quite difficult to get our foot in the door. With QRIDA and the help of our employers it has made our goals achievable,” Tim said.
Sasha said their local Regional Area Manager for the North West and Gulf, Jessica Christeson, was a great help through the application process.
“Jess was very supportive, she outlined what we needed to do and helped us fill in the application and any questions we had were thoroughly answered.
"I found the application process to be quite in depth, but it was straightforward, and it allowed us to thoroughly write down what we had and what we could achieve.
“I think it’s very important to have Regional Area Managers to visit you on-farm. They can see where you’re living, what the conditions are like and understand your situation better,” she said.
Tim said some of the main attractions of the First Start Loan were the low interest rates and flexible repayment terms.
“When we first discovered it [the First Start Loan] the interest rates were quite low, and it had very flexible repayment terms, so if you came across a few hard times they were very understanding.
“You don’t get blunt or cold face answers on anything, there is a dedicated team who are happy to work with you to get to the end result,” he said.
Being part of the agriculture industry has always been the dream for Tim and Sasha and one they hope to share with their kids someday.
“We’ve always loved the industry; this is where we want to be and being able to do something for ourselves makes it very exciting for us. We’ve got a couple of young kids that we are raising here and hopefully we’re starting a future for them in the industry which is very exciting,” Tim said.
Visit QRIDA’s First Start Loan webpage for more information.