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From the Community to the Canopy: An Investigation of Pathways to Careers in the Kiwifruit Industry in the Bay of Plenty

Executive Summary

There is a gold rush in the Bay of Plenty. The Kiwifruit Industry is positively booming and is struggling to attract enough people to the industry to keep up with its rapid growth. What career pathways are currently available? What is the extent of current labour attraction strategies? And how can the Kiwifruit sector connect local people with local jobs to both; meet the labour demands of a rapidly growing industry and help revitalise impoverished communities in the Bay of Plenty? The main thrust for this research is to firstly outline the current labour situation and then identify opportunities within the Kiwifruit industry to create pathways to careers. This project aims to gain an understanding of the labour problems facing the kiwifruit industry and to create a desirable offering for jobseekers to create a prosperous and robust workforce.
The New Zealand kiwifruit sector is currently producing 143 million trays per year, which is projected to reach 190m trays by 2027. The kiwifruit industry currently employs more than 15,000 full time equivalent workers. An additional 7,000 workers are required by 2027 if projected growth is to be achieved. The Kiwifruit Industry is struggling to employ sufficient workers, which has been exacerbated by the response to the Covid 19 pandemic. There has been a massive drop in the number of RSE workers and backpackers using a working holiday visa due to Covid 19 and those positions now have to be filled by New Zealanders. In 2019 a labour shortage was declared in the Bay of Plenty with a peak shortage of 2,500 workers.
There are several factors affecting the industry’s ability to attract and retain staff including; transport and accommodation issues, negative perceptions of the industry around pay and working conditions and the inconsistent nature of seasonal work. Labour constraints present the biggest challenge in meeting future growth projections for the industry.
The industry needs to extend its labour attraction strategies and provide more ‘earn while you learn’ opportunities as well as kaupapa Maori learning environments to attract more Maori to the industry particularly at higher levels of employment and governance where there is a lack of representation. Government departments need to work alongside training organisations and industry groups to employ and train New Zealanders, particularly those who are under-utilised in the workforce. Initiatives to improve attractiveness of roles should focus on improved flexibility (part-time work), reliability of work hours, extended seasonal work contracts and collaboration across industries.
A holistic approach is needed so the Kiwifruit industry can simultaneously; realise the huge growth opportunities ahead as well as lifting the productivity and prosperity of New Zealanders to create thriving communities.

Read the full report:

Pathways to Careers in Kiwifruit

James Hart, Kellogg Course 42, 2021

 

Understanding strategic alliances and their role in New Zealand agriculture

Executive Summary

New Zealand companies that export goods face the challenges of seeking cost effective ways to overcome the disadvantages of a small domestic market, the high cost of domestic production, stringent regulations and compliance, and the geographical distance to major markets. One approach to respond to this challenging environment is business collaboration, using strategic alliances.
Strategic alliances need to comply with the commerce act however and avoid anti-competitive behaviour.
The purpose of this report is to investigate three key areas regarding strategic alliances:
1. Explore the benefits and risks associated with alliance relationships
2. Understand how to implement and maintain a strategic alliance
3. Investigate the current use of strategic alliances in the agriculture industry and the appetite for more collaboration
The methodology used for this report includes a literature review and a qualitative approach was conducted using interviews with industry leaders. The responses from the interviews were categorised and key trends identified. This allowed me to draw recommendations and identify key actions.
International research has shown the use of strategic alliances are increasing rapidly. The intention of a strategic alliance has typically centred around growth, sharing resources, extending reach, access to information / knowledge, and to enhance a product. However, strategic alliances need to be approached with caution as numerous studies indicate that 50% of all strategic alliances will underperform, and 30% will fail outright. Poor execution is responsible for 86% of all failed alliances. The findings in this report indicate there are enormous opportunities for improving outcomes. This report identifies the crucial steps and actions required during the implementation and on-going management of a strategic alliance. Recognising and adapting to the unique characteristics of each alliance can dramatically increase the likelihood of success for everyone involved. It is my recommendation that a strategic alliance should be considered within any company growth strategy. I recommend having a check list and work through a process, with three key focus areas being: 1) Have a sound business plan 2) Have real clarity on the purpose 3) Getting the right partner
Supporting my view, 90% of industry leaders interviewed are considering a new alliance going forward. Furthermore 100% of industry leaders believe there is an opportunity for more collaboration in the industry, and agree strategic alliances are a good tool to achieve this.

Read the full report:

Understanding Strategic Alliances

Thomas Creswell, Kellogg Course 42, 2021

Alternative Proteins & the Agri-Industry

Executive Summary

New Zealand’s current protein production is dominated by meat and dairy. There are ongoing and increasingly growing challenges for sustainability, environmental limits, and pressure for greater efficiencies. Emergent and developing trends in plant-based proteins are creating movements and shifts in consumer demand and food production. Health and nutrition are influencing consumer demand more than ever, therefore the value proprositions in the food market have to meet this demand. The current alternative protein industry is still in its infancy in New Zealand with some sectors such as Hemp and Quinoa rapidly growing. However, in general, New Zealand is behind the main growth countries producing plant based protein like Canada and the Netherlands. This presents an opportunity to take learnings and develop potential collaborations, to advance New Zealand’s progression.

Throughout this study, a greater understanding was sought in the global positioning of alternative proteins and within the New Zealand context. This was then used to identify the considerations required to evaluate the importance of alternative proteins to the Agri-industry in New Zealand.
Key findings and discussion points raised are:

  • Food production needs to increase by 70% to feed the world population of 9.7 billion in 2050.
  • New Zealand has a natural bioeconomy as there is low fossil fuel use and more energy produced by renewable sources (80%) such as wind, geothermal, hydroand biomass, but New Zealand needs to move into a new bioeconomy charactarised by biotechnology and greater cross -sector thinking and actions.
  • The Fourth revolution is here and characterised by building on the Third, the digital revolution, that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. The fourth is combining human and machine where technology is embedded in our societies enabling artificial intelligence, renewable energy, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles.
  • Sustainability is key in all aspects of food production. Using the fourth revolution and utilising plant-based opportunities to create products that fill market gaps or outperforms the rest of the world will enable New Zealand to be a global leader in food production.
  • The steps that enable New Zelaand to be a global leader should concide with achieving goals in climate change (the Paris Agreement) and mitigating the affects of green house gases and the other pollution occurring like high nutrient loading in water bodies.
  • “Farmers are motivated by a diverse range of drivers  and constrained (and enabled) by a range of social, cultural, economic, and physical factors. Farmers will therefore react in different ways to external drivers of change and will respond differently to encouragement, incentives, and legislation aimed at influencing their farming practice.”

From the above findings and conclusions , the following recommendations have been suggested:

  • Keep monitoring consumer trends & food markets to increase awareness of markets and consumer change
  • Maintain and grow our reputation/ story of being food producers of high value and highly nutritious ingredients or wholefoods.
  • Leverage our competencies of current successful sectors especially as meat and dairy innovators
  • Seek expertise where knowledge or skills are low and empower people to become experts in new alternative proteins.
  • Encourage and develop coalitions with the government departments such as Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry for the Environment and farmers to provide incentives and/or support in areas where New Zealand can deliver the world’s best produce.
  • Reward and support leaders paving the way for the nation and their peers in agricultural and especially in new products or production that adds value to the New Zealand Agricultural Industry.
  • Develop a New Zealand plant-based food strategy for New Zealand agriculture
  • Create and develop a greater understanding and technical expertise in plant-based opportunities to enable greater diffusion of adoption to farmers.

Read the full report:
Alternative Proteins & the Agri-Industry

Helen France, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

Increasing field reps’ knowledge of grain trading

Executive Summary

“The nation must grow its people who are working across the food and fibre value chain.” (Grimmond et al., 2014).  The human capability required to meet the primary industry’s strategy for 2025 is a forecasted 4,700 increase in jobs associated with the arable industry (2012 to 2025).  It is therefore critical that as an arable industry we are prepared to grow, and our people are trained and skilled to meet our primary industry strategy.

The aim of this report is to research the development of a grain trading course for field reps, specifically targeting field reps in their first two years out on the road with the objective that it is used by agribusiness organisations.   Industry could use this research document to inspire further discussion and development on upskilling our people in arable.

The methodology included an exploratory literature review which concluded that there is a gap in arable training and development in New Zealand. I looked at overseas grain trading courses: two that stood out were the Grain Trade Australia (GTA) courses and the Kansas State University – International Grains Programme (IGP).  These courses are based in Australia and the midwestern State of Kansas in the USA where grain production is key to their economies.

I created a semi-structured questionnaire, and targeted grain traders from the arable industry with field rep staff and arable growers from the various cropping areas throughout the country.

As a result of the information gathered from the literature review and the grower and industry surveys, it is my recommendation that a grain trading course should be developed in New Zealand, with the following guidelines.

  • A course template is created that is operated from the industry body, NZGSTA, with the intention of the course operating biennially or as required. I would recommend NZGSTA act as the facilitator alongside an education provider such as Lincoln University, to run the course. 
  • The suggested course outline is for a 3-day grain trading course for field reps. Day 1, a full day, Day 2, a ½ day.  Both days are done consecutively.  Day 3, a ½ day, six months later.  Speakers with relevant experience would be brought in to present on each of the topics.
  • An elected member of the NZGSTA executive committee is appointed to oversee training and development. Personnel training and development needs to be at the forefront of our industry and any course offered, should continue to evolve and remain relevant. 
  • A customised in-house training option should be available, as we have seen with Ravensdown and their cropping course. This would potentially suit some of the larger companies with rep teams, as businesses can take on the base course content and adapt it to suit their individual company culture.  As with the above course template a service provider such as Lincoln University could run the course. 
  • From the feedback from the grower survey, “that the link the field rep holds between the firm and the farmer is most important,” my recommendation would be that the course provider identifies good growers, that are willing to be mentors, to new field reps. One farmer assigned to one rep.  The course provider communicates with the growers before Day 3, to provide constructive feedback, that can help assist individual field reps.  This is a similar concept that Primary ITO adopts, where it gets the employer to verify on-farm training. 
  • Further work needs to be done on the funding for the course. Perhaps, opportunities for industry sponsorship.  The intention is however, that the course is funded by the attendees or their employers.

Read the full report:
Increasing field reps’ knowledge of grain trading

Sarah Watson, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

New Zealand labour force in the food and fibre sector: Resilience in times of crisis

Executive Summary

The Primary Industry has long been stated as being the backbone to New Zealand’s successful economy. A reputation worldwide for a high quality of food and fibre, and good agriculture practices on luscious clean and green land. The Primary industry employs over 14% of the total population of New Zealand and has been through a rollercoaster in employment since 2002.

In 2011 the recognised seasonal employment scheme came into effect and it has allowed the food and fibre industry to grow since. Although continued growth requires a capable workforce to do the work. This was identified in 2019 by the Primary Industry Council and the Food and Fibre Working Group which has led to each establishing a vision and strategic 3 – year plan to grow the Knowledge, Employment, Education and attraction of New Zealanders into the primary Industries.

However, the impact of a global pandemic crisis has highlighted that the development of strategic labour force plans like the food and fibre skills action plan and the primary three year plan was all too late to assist with the biggest challenge the industry would face in over 20 years. COVID19 forced the New Zealand border into lockdown and restricted travel into New Zealand. With upcoming seasonal work starting, how was the primary industry get its capable workforce to achieve the level of productivity it was used to.

Immediate challenges affected the kiwifruit and dairy industry, while no one really understood the impact and implications the crisis would have going forward. Now in October 2020, summer is approaching and so is pruning and harvest season for the horticulture industry, the biggest sector of the industry that relies on seasonal overseas workers. At least 10,000 workers are still needed to harvest the crops, turning 2020 into a year of “how much crop can you harvest rather than how much crop can you grow”.

Slow but steady support from the government has helped overseas workers and immigrants stay longer in New Zealand, however the closure of the boarders is preventing the additional numbers of the workforce coming to New Zealand to help with harvesting. Some New Zealanders will turn to help, but the sector requires a capable workforce to move volumes of fruit and vegetables around the world.

The resilience of the New Zealand workforce has been tested through the duration of the COVID 19 global pandemic crisis but now New Zealand and the primary industry need to plan for the next global pandemic. A contingency plan for the next crisis, greater collaboration with the New Zealand Government and inclusion with the contingency planning and expanding the Recognised Seasonal Employment scheme so New Zealand can have a capable workforce and continue to grow the strengths of the primary industry in New Zealand.

Read the full report:
New Zealand labour force in the food and fibre sector: Resilience in times of crisis

Sam Shergold, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

Getting the next generation into farm ownership on their own footing

Executive Summary

There is something special about owning a piece of land and providing high quality nutritional produce to the world. Farmers are dedicated to their jobs and work every day to put food on people’s plates. This commitment is vital to sustain the growth of the world’s population and address continuous change, be it market, technical, disease or environmentally driven. The challenge is to grow the agricultural industry and keep entry points open, to allow the next generation to attain farm ownership.

The aim of this project is to investigate what options there are for younger farmers to grow their equity within the agricultural industry, rather than investing in external options, and enable them to get a foot in the door to farm ownership.

From my discussions with farmers, rural professionals and business owners outside the agricultural industry, there is a sense that it is harder than it has ever been to buy a farm, but it is still possible. For those people wanting farm ownership, they felt this could still be achieved through hard work, embracing opportunities and a bit of luck. Generation Y and Z have a different view to the traditional mindset about the pathway that may lead them into farm ownership. In the past, this has typically involved hard physical graft, but for Generation Y and Z, they are looking for more than just physical ownership.

Generation Z, who are being raised in a fast-paced continually changing world, want to develop skills that are transferable between industries so they are not confined to the same job for many years. For this generation, while farm ownership may limit their diversity of skills, they also want the security and stability, which can be achieved by owning a farm.

However, there are also some in Generation Z that have full autonomy in their farming role and, because they view themselves as guardians of the land for a limited time, they do not see the need for farm ownership to achieve their goals.

A significant issue that the agricultural industry is facing, is to create a vibrant industry that attracts and retains the next generation in farming. Without a diverse and exciting industry that allows progression within the farm gate, Generation Z will look to other industries that can fulfil their needs. Losing this resource will also have a direct impact on farm profitability.

From the discussions held with farmers and rural professionals, the model that appears to work best for all parties in the long term, and particularly Generation Y and Z, is equity partnerships. For Generation Y and Z it meets their desire for flexibility and provides a variety of structures and options for entry and exit. It enables a holistic approach as both parties are working towards the same goal. The advantages of equity partnerships are that they share the capital gain equitably, enables tax to be offset against capital improvements, and it is easy to change the proportion of shareholders holdings. There was also a view from rural professionals that, operational shareholders need opportunities to grow their equity in the farm. Given the cost of changing management of operational shareholders, this may be cheaper in the long term if existing managers are financially rewarded. Staff stability will enable the business to achieve higher targets because all the shareholders are aligned with common business goals. There are different ways an equity partnership can allow operational shareholders to do this, for instance rearing livestock, diversification of land use or farm profit performance-based shares. This in turn allows the next generation to grow their equity, and provide more opportunities for retiring farmers to sell their land.

New Zealand farmers are well known for their “kiwi ingenuity” and the challenge of getting into farm ownership from scratch is just another hurdle that can be overcome with creative thinking and support. In order for farms to remain in New Zealand ownership, it is important to work with young people, give them a vote of confidence, guidance and financial opportunities to pursue farm ownership in a way that is meaningful for them and allows them to meet their goals.

Read the full report:
Getting the next generation into farm ownership on their own footing

Matt Redmond, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

The industry, the farm, and the people: Who will own our dairy farms in the future?

Executive Summary

Dairy farming in New Zealand has undergone rapid growth over the last two decades. Land values have increased. This increase in value is making it difficult for progression to ownership for many who are still in the industry. The total number of available sharemilking positions has been steadily decreasing, with an increase in owner operators choosing to employ Contract Milkers to run their farms. To reach the goal of dairy farm ownership, those in the industry are becoming creative around the pathway they choose for progression.

What has not changed during this growth of the industry are the people. Those who reach the goal of dairy farm ownership have key characteristics in common and when these characteristics are examined, they become keys to success.

For this study, rural professionals were interviewed, in a semi-structured format. These rural professionals were from reputable farm advisory firms and rural banks. There were four farm advisors interviewed and four rural banks, each giving their professional opinion on the progression to dairy farm ownership. A thematic analysis was then done on the results. Four dairy farmers were interviewed, using semi-structured interviews. These dairy farmers had progressed to dairy farm ownership in the previous five years, all using different methods of progression.

The results from these interviews were analysed with a thematic methodology. Results from the rural professionals’ and farmers’ analysis were compared and contrasted, to ascertain the common links.

Those who have reached the goal of dairy farm ownership in the last five years have all exhibited:

• Determination
• Respectable reputations
• Sound financial ability
• Knowledgeable and knowledge seeking
• Been a part of a strong team

The pathway that they undertook to reach the goal of ownership differed between all the farmers. The pathway chosen was what was best suited their individual circumstance, rather than taking the pathway that the prior generation had travelled.

Recommendations for those who are starting out in the New Zealand dairy industry, with the aspiration to own a dairy farm, are:

• Stay focussed on your goal of dairy farm ownership
• Be good with your money. If you do not know how then learn to be.
• Maintain a good reputation
• Knowledge is power, always take opportunities to learn

“You can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions”

Read the full report:
The industry, the farm, and the people. Who will own our dairy farms in the future?

Charlotte Montgomery, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

Corporate Social Responsibility in Aotearoa Dairy Farming: Current Situation and How We Win

Executive Summary

Corporate social responsibility (C.S.R.) is maturing rapidly in modern times as a way for companies to reflect the values of its customers, employees and investors. The United Nations (U.N) begun working alongside corporate organizations to encourage C.S.R. integrity in 1999 with the most ambitious development by the U.N being the 17 sustainable development goals agreed upon by 193 member states in 2015.

Much of this maturing of C.S.R has been in response to societal pressure and consumer demand. Perhaps no industry has felt the effects of this pressure more than dairy farming. Dairy is facing rising compliance as expectations of consumers and the public grow. Society is putting more emphasis on the impact of their food purchasing decisions resulting in rapid change for Aotearoa dairy farmers.

Dairy farming in Aotearoa is a unique business in that it is non-competitive at the supplier level. Farmers are not competing with their neighbour or any dairy farm, as they are all collected by a processor. Creating an environment where some low performing businesses have been able to survive that may have not in other more competitive industries, i.e. building firms; this will change. The impact potentially will have a positive effect on the standards within the industry as top-performing farmers who are more adaptable to change in compliance and ethical standards will rise. 

The industry must prepare to exit a large number of farmers gracefully. With current debt levels and the stagnation or loss of land asset values, many farms will not have strong financial resilience for a drop in milk price (something history would suggest inevitable) while still holistically meeting their standards in C.S.R. Additionally; others will not adapt to changes in compliance and ethical responsibilities and exit the industry due to these changes. From this will be an immense opportunity for those farmers with healthy debt to asset ratios and who can operate in the top 20% of profitability.

Carroll’s pyramid, a model for investigating a company’s C.S.R. requirements, was used to analyze the Aotearoa dairy industry’s current position. Dr Carroll, who was awarded a lifetime achievement award from Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany for services to corporate social responsibility has written a large amount of academic literature on C.S.R. Carroll broke the C.S.R. of a business into four pillars using a pyramid model. The four pillars are:

Philanthropic Responsibilities, voluntary or discretionary activities for the benefit of others or their environment. Farmers participate in wide and varied philanthropic activities; these acts are not undertaken for strategic reasons. There is potential to leverage these acts to improve perception and build on social license to operate.

Ethical Responsibilities, standards and expectations that reflect the concern for what consumers, employees and stakeholders regard as fair. Dairy farming has been slow to respond to ethical concerns of stakeholders, which has seen a loss of trust capital within relationships. As a result, in five years, positive perceptions of New Zealand dairy farming have slipped from 78% to 47% (U.M.R. Research, 2017). A social license to operate has become a vital topic in recent years regarding ethical responsibilities. In response to this, milk processors, have implemented several ethical agreements with their suppliers setting standards above and beyond legal compliance standards, to meet public and consumer pressure.

Legal Responsibilities, business is expected to comply with laws and responsibilities set by the Government; economic returns must be achieved within the framework of the law.  Compliance is rising, and the cost of this is high. Top farmers will rise to the challenge, and many low performers will fall out of the industry due to increasing compliance. The increase in specific laws is a result of the loss of trust in stakeholders’ views towards dairy achieving its ethical responsibilities. Ethical trust must be rebuilt with stakeholders to reduce growing legislated compliance. The industry will be held to account of its worst producer, not its best. The bobby calf scandal (Max Towle December 6, 2015) highlights this and shows the media will portray most of the industry by the actions of a minority.

Economic Responsibilities, It is essential that a successful firm be defined as one that is consistently profitable. The average return on asset of 0.5% for 2018-19 season, with a breakeven milk price returning between a $9,000 and $48,000 per 100,000Kg of milk solids, is not a worthy reward for the effort and is unsustainable long term. Capital gain on land can no longer be anticipated, operating profit is all that can be relied on, and this is volatile due to milk price. To be resilient and last long term, farms need to target the profitability performance of the current top 20% and continually improve.

To win in the future of Corporate Social Responsibility, farmers and the industry will need to achieve the following:

  1. Reinvent their business constantly, the end goal may be the same, but the tools and methods are constantly evolving. Embrace change.
  2. Removal of farmers that risk tarnishing the industry, one farmer is a danger to the reputation and acceptance of all. Milk processors and Government must take responsibility of this. This will increase ethical approval by the public.
  3. Invest with the head and not the heart to be sustainable and ensure a more acceptable return on assets and manageable debt to asset ratios. Purchasing a farm must be made as if investing in a commercial building or other investment utilizing similar financial models.
  4. Acquire greater financial skills and drive profitability. Farmers should target to perform at the level of the current top 20% of operating profit. Action by the wider industry, including milk processors, must occur around educating farmers on profitability. If they do not, farmers will struggle to meet ethical and legal expectations of the industry. These all work in harmony.
  5. Understand the “why” behind compliance better, were compliance instigates from and what it enables. Conversely, the industry must explain the reasoning behind compliance clearer and more intentionally to farmers.
  6. Formulate successful plans and models to exit a large number of farms gracefully from the industry. Support in planning and strategic decision-making is lacking at the end of many farmers careers. Banks, milk processors and industry good organizations must take accountability to support in this.

Read the full report:
Corporate Social Responsibility in Aotearoa Dairy Farming:  Current Situation and How We Win

Graeme Peter, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

Back to the Future: Harnessing the value of diverse dairy farming enterprises

Executive Summary

For my Kellogg project I wanted to explore how ‘ready’ we are as a sector to capture the potential value of diverse dairy enterprises across different parts of the value chain, everything from farmer or grower to consumer. In Canterbury specifically, we may find ourselves in a position where environmental regulations encourage us to operate with multiple land uses, as individual parcels of land work to reduce their nitrogen leached, water used, and greenhouse gases emitted.

There is also building pressure and urgency around finding pathways to capture opportunities such as: adding more value to non-replacement dairy calves, positioning our New Zealand Food and Fibre products away from commodities and towards products with genuine market differentiation as well as understanding the role plant based proteins will play in New Zealand’s food future. I believe that this provides us with an infinite opportunity to re-imagine not only what we farm or grow, but also how we collaborate across supply chains and how we look to position a unique provenance position in the marketplace.

I chose to interview a combination of start-up and mature businesses across farming, processing and food retail disciplines, aiming to bring together the key themes that will influence our ability to achieve exceptional value from our collective efforts and share it in the most meaningful places across supply chains. I have used a simple reflection technique of: viability, feasibility and desirability 
to analyse the validity of any recommendations in terms of their ability to provide additional value to a range of stakeholders. My objective is clear – there must be winners and winners, not winners and losers. I have chosen to present my report using a combination of storytelling and academic techniques.

         My key findings were:

  • We are not being honest with ourselves when it comes to the consumer and how rapidly their buying preferences are developing, and letting this guide us. We are not curious, and often apply our own value set to another individual.
  • Losers will be defined by their attitude towards disruption – the pace of change required is faster than ever before and there is an urgency to think differently in order to remain relevant.
  • We are lacking in options for farmers to gain accessibility into horizontal diversification and supply chains. We are applying old thinking to new challenges rather than collaborating across land uses and seeking shared benefit.

    My recommendations are:

  • We need to get excited about the consumer and their changing preferences, not spend energy defending why we perceive those preferences to be invalid.
  • We must embrace disruption and not lampoon those who give it a go.
  • We can provide more ‘turn-key packages’ for farm system diversification to enable farmers to pivot.
  • Modelling of future farm systems and connected value in the market can’t be done as an academic exercise; it must be grounded in commercial reality utilising key stakeholders from the outset.

Read the full report:

Back to the Future: Harnessing the value of diverse dairy farming enterprises

Juliette Maitland, Kellogg Course 41, 2020

Employee Engagement: The key to retaining talent and passion on New Zealand’s Dairy Farms.

Executive Summary

Historically Dairy farming was seen as an attractive career path where hard work and dedication was rewarded with the trophy of farm ownership, but that reward is all but out of the grasp of most; this amongst a plethora of other reasons has led to an ever increasing struggle to attract and retain talented individuals on farm.  With 60% of new entrants to the dairy industry leaving within the first twelve months, retention is a very real issue on our dairy farms. Research has shown engaged employees are not only less likely to leave the farm or organisation, but when employees are engaged, the organisation will be both more productive and profitable.

New Zealand is a food producing nation which prides itself on the story we have to tell, often overlooked though is that people are at the heart of that story. Improving employee engagement on farm will help dairy farmers be better employers, and ultimately better equipped to retain employees. The aim of this report is to better understand the concept of employee engagement and how it can be understood, measured, and created. Employee engagement is a concept that is not unique to any specific business type or size, therefore can be applied to any farm situation regardless of the number of employees.

Gallup is an organisation with over thirty years of research on employee engagement. Gallup is used by thousands of organisations globally with the intention of identifying areas where employee engagement is lacking and may be improved. Gallup employee engagement surveys consist of twelve questions which directly relate to twelve basic human needs.  Humans are social and phycological beings who must be understood and known as people not just as employees.

An investigation into employee engagement at FMG, has been carried out. FMG is an organisation with a highly engaged workforce and a very apparent focus on people, ranking in the 76th percentile globally in the Gallup employee engagement survey. FMG uses the service profit chain, a model which puts people at the centre of everything, where happy employees leads to increased productivity and happy clients  and happy clients lead to increased profitability of the organisation.  Themes and learnings can be taken from this case study and practically applied to an on farm environment.

The recommendations of this report are intended to be able to be easily applied in farm to aid in improving the engagement of employees, recommendations are as follows;

  • Provide development opportunities.
  • Give feedback and recognition.
  • Share and discuss purpose.
  • Give flexibility and autonomy where possible.
  • Improving employee engagement takes time.

Read the full report:
Employee Engagement: The key to retaining talent and passion on New Zealand’s Dairy Farms.

Lucy Moss, Kellogg Course 41, 2020