How Sam strengthened his farm business with a RIC loan


15 February 2024

A RIC low-interest Drought Loan has enabled Tasmanian farmer Sam Elphinstone to improve his cash flow, invest in water storage and expand his farm business in partnership with his commercial lender.

In just 3 years, Sam built greater confidence with his bank, who provided additional finance to fund the purchase of more land and repay his RIC loan well in advance of the 10-year loan term.

“I wouldn’t have been in such a strong position without the support of a RIC loan,” Sam said.

Sam had his heart set on being a farmer ever since he was 2 years old.

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

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 the lack of rainfall limiting his production leading into 2019, Sam was keen to improve his water storage and applied for a RIC Drought Loan.

From 2020, Sam used his RIC loan to build 2 new dams and increase the size of an existing dam. This has increased his water capacity by about 70 per cent.

The increased cash flow also enabled him to pay off two tractors to boost his operations.

Sam was able to repay his RIC loan in 2023 when he sought to buy additional land from his father through succession arrangements.

His commercial lender was satisfied with the growth and improved sustainability in his business and lent him the funds he needed to buy the land and clear the RIC loan.

He has now increased his land holding to 420 acres, enabling him to plant an additional 40 acres of potatoes.

He has been able to irrigate those potatoes with his additional dam capacity.

“It’s meant I’m not worried about putting water to them and if I do run out, it’ll only be a week before I dig them out,” Sam said.

Sam said with the amount of land he now had access to, he felt established.

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

“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.”

Although Sam repaid his RIC Drought Loan earlier than the 10-year loan term, there were no penalty fees for early repayment nor any ongoing account management fees which are other key features of a RIC loan designed to keep costs down for farmers in financial need.

Photo of farm scenery


Seeking advice

Crucial to Sam’s success has been the advice he received from financial consultant, Greg Bott.

Greg initially helped him with budgeting and financial advice, then suggested Sam apply for the RIC Drought Loan.

“He fully qualified,” Greg said.

“Sam felt all the impacts of all the droughts and dry periods, making him a perfect candidate.”

There is plenty of help available for anyone looking into a RIC loan, from rural financial counsellors, accountants and agribusiness consultants and potential applicants are urged to use the resources available and not to self-assess.

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

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

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

For more information on how RIC loans may be able to help your farm business, please click here.