How Sam increased his water storage by 70% with a RIC loan

Sam Elphinstone, Latrobe TAS

Sam Elphinstone has wanted to be a farmer since he was two years old.

“I used to play in the house with my tractor toys and set up irrigators,” he said.

“I’d come home from school and help my grandfather on the farm. I’ve always wanted to be a farmer.”

Sam began his career as a boilermaker in the mining industry with the dream of financing his farm business.

“I started off buying a tractor, then I bought a baler and another piece of gear,” he said.

He eventually bought a block of land from his father and moved home to the family farm at Harford.

He now farms beef cattle, poppies for use in pain relief medicine, pyrethrum for insecticides and some vegetables including carrots, potatoes and swedes.

Photo of man with dog

With drought and lack of rainfall limiting his production, Sam was keen to improve his water storage, so he contacted financial consultant Greg Bott.

Greg initially helped him with budgeting and financial advice, then suggested Sam apply for a Regional Investment Corporation (RIC) Drought Loan.

“He fully qualified,” Greg said.

“He’d felt all the impacts of all the droughts and dry periods, so he was a perfect candidate.”

RIC Engagement Manager Susie Lohrey said there was lots of help available for anyone looking into a RIC loan.

“We have the rural financial counsellors, accountants, agribusiness consultants,” she said.

“Whatever you do, don’t do it alone, don’t self-assess. Use the resources we’ve got because they’re there for you.”

Rural Business Tasmania is the service provider for rural financial counsellors in Tasmania.

CEO Elizabeth Skirving said Rural Business Tasmania worked closely with the RIC to ensure their clients and those in the rural community were supported through the RIC loan application process.

“We get referrals directly through Susie who is our local RIC representative,” Elizabeth said.

“We make sure there is that continued conversation throughout the journey that the client’s on.”

Photo of farm scenery

Sam has used his RIC loan to build two new dams and increase the size of an existing dam. This has increased his water capacity by about 70%.

“I’m at the stage now where I’ve worked hard and I’m able to be a full-time farmer,” Sam said.

“I’ve got a lot of land now and I’ve established myself.

“It takes time and what I’d say to anyone is, have a go.

“You’ve got to do it slowly, but don’t be scared to have a crack.”

To find a rural financial counsellor near you, click here