Farm business planning

Investigating farmer needs to support strong farm business

The NSW Government is undertaking a project to better understand farmers’ needs to support strong farm businesses. The objective of the project is to identify opportunities to assist farmers in NSW to enhance their business skills and manage change. Outcomes from the investigation will be used to ensure government programs are well targeted and meet farmers’ needs.


The objective of the project is to identify opportunities to enhance farmers’ business skills and preparedness for change, with a particular focus on:

  • Understanding how farmers assess risk management options
  • Identifying and addressing information gaps and/or failures in current support programs
  • Opportunities for formal and informal farm business skills activities.

Project approach

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is partnering with the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner (OSBC) to deliver the project. The project us using a ‘design thinking’ approach involving targeted consultation with farmers and farm advisors to assess the strength of current risk management measures and scope areas for improvement.

The design thinking approach involves a number of key phases to ensure stakeholders are engaged through the entire process, from problem definition to solution development and testing. This ensures that the recommendations put forward at the end of the process are grounded in stakeholders’ experiences and meet their needs.

Phase 1: Empathise Face-to-face research with target stakeholders
Phase 2: Define Identification of problem areas and opportunities for change
Phase 3: Ideate Brainstorming of potential solutions
Phase 4: Prototype Development of core ideas into simple models
Phase 5: Test Testing and refining of models with target stakeholders
Phase 6: Recommendations Presentation of findings and recommendations

The project ran through to the end of 2017.