30 years in the making: how the Lovell’s achieved their goals with a QRIDA Sustainability Loan
Nestled in scrub land 40 kilometres south of Biloela in Lawgi Dawes, Helen and Paul Lovell sit on their back deck with a hot cup of coffee and fresh scones, looking out over their property ‘Fieldview’… a dream they’ve been working towards for the past three decades.
Coming from primary production backgrounds, Helen and Paul always loved the land. The couple now run a beef production enterprise with 150-170 breeders and 280-300 fattening cattle across 1,950 acres of scrub and forest country.
“We’ve got a diverse range of country here. We’ve got forest country, which is more suitable to the breeders, and then our fattening country which we fatten the progeny on,” Helen explains.
The couple started out with only 500 acres 33 years ago before purchasing an additional 1,000-acre block later down the track. But, as Helen explains, they still needed more land.
“In the last few years, we’d had to offload cattle just so that we could keep our pastures and our ground cover at a sustainable level, so that we weren’t doing any damage to our land. We realised we couldn’t keep our breeder numbers and grow all the progeny through, so we needed to expand,” she says.
Making dreams a reality
Having accessed QRIDA loans in the past, the Lovell’s relationship dates back to 2002.
So, when a nearby block of land became available, Helen and Paul got in touch with QRIDA’s Regional Area Manager for Capricornia, John Metelli.
“We’d dealt with QRIDA in the past and always found them helpful. With the application process, while some people say it’s daunting, it’s not really that difficult,” Helen says.
“John is just a phone call away. He came out before we purchased the last property and ran through some figures with us and guided us in the right direction.”
“To have someone to sit down at the kitchen table with us while we explain what we were looking to do and the process - it makes it so much easier than trying to do it over the phone with people you don’t know. You develop a relationship,” Paul echoes.
Helen and Paul accessed a QRIDA Sustainability Loan to purchase an additional 370 acres of land.
“We wanted to get to those levels to be more sustainable and that’s why we bought the extra scrub block just so that we could carry the progeny of those breeders right through to fattening,” Helen says.
“By having that extra land, it makes our enterprise more profitable so that we can have those numbers in the breeders and their progeny coming through, so we’re not overstocking at any point in time. It’s all sustainable. We have put a lot of legumes back into the land to enhance those pastures as well, so it’s a win-win for the soil, pastures and the cattle are fattening better on them.”
But achieving this goal wasn’t just about the land. While the Lovell’s had always derived majority of their income from their property, both Paul and Helen were still working side jobs off-farm. But Paul had always had the dream of working 100% on-farm and purchasing this additional block has allowed him to do just that.
“It’s nice to get out of the hum-drum of getting up and going to work every day, working for someone else, whether it be enjoyable or not, there’s a lot more satisfaction in doing it for yourself,” Paul explains.
“The difference for me is I get out of bed because I want to and want to go to work, not because I have to. Everyday has its challenges, but it’s much more satisfying.”
Building a family legacy
An element of Helen and Paul’s expansion has been about maintaining the quality of the land and leaving it better than how they found it.
Parents to a 23 and 26-year-old who are eager to follow in their footsteps, Paul says education and their children’s futures play a large part in their business decisions.
“You’ve got to be doing what you love to do. Our kids grew up here, we were able to educate them and give them a grounding that I think they can take for life.
“Looking to the future we want to keep this country in as good condition as we can get it, and then hopefully in time with succession planning, bring that through to our family,” Paul says.
“It’s wonderful that they’re both so keen to get back onto the land and as it is now, they come out to help us brand and fence or whatever we’re doing, they’re here to help and are quite involved with what we do. The kids are keen to adopt the new processes that we have,” Helen echoes.
Reflecting on their journey, Helen and Paul say QRIDA has helped make their dreams achievable.
“It’s been more than a 30-odd year plan to get to this point and its finally happening,” Paul says.
Giving advice to other producers, Helen says, “definitely give QRIDA a ring. They’re more than helpful and they will tell you, just like John did for us, whether something can or can’t be done and what options are available. I’d recommend QRIDA as your first port of call.”
“QRIDA has allowed us to build our family enterprise up to a point where we will leave a legacy that is not only sustainable but economical,” says Paul.
QRIDA offers Sustainability Loans up to $1.3 million for producers looking to invest in the latest infrastructure to create a viable future for their farming business. This can include purchasing property or activities that improve farming system sustainability, natural resource sustainability and financial sustainability.
Visit QRIDA’s Sustainability Loan page for more information.