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Why do the All Blacks need a Coach when 76% of farmers don’t.

Executive Summary

Top farmers leverage their consultants to achieve more than they would on their own. They do this in five main ways;

  1. They have a plan.
  2. They are prepared for their time with the advisor.
  3. They have identified the skill s or tools they require.
  4. They seek advice from reputable sources.
  5. They seek options, not answers.

Consultants have the ability to significantly lift farm performance provided;

  1. They are aligned with the farmers plan.
  2. They are prepared for their time with the farmer.
  3. They have the experience and skills required to fill the identified gap.
  4. The y ask the right questions.
  5. They provide options that are the “right fit” for the farmer.

Consultants also provide an important safety net and social connection for individuals within our industry.

While a corporate background is certainly not a prerequisite for being a farmer, the disciplines, skills, and tools acquired during employment are advantageous to any business owner. Where possible,

farmers should seek out courses and conferences to enhance their business skills.

The goal is to make “their” boat go faster.

Why do the All Blacks need a Coach when 76% of farmers don’t? – Nathan Keoghan

Farmer engagement with Fonterra shareholders’ council.

Executive Summary

The purpose of this study is to explore if there is a “disconnect” between Fonterra farmers and their Co-operative and in particular the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council. As a body one of its primary roles is to represent farmer share holder views – which raises the question of how effective it can be if there is a problem connecting broadly with the shareholder base.

What has seemed to work well in the past has been more difficult to replicate due to the consolidation of the dairy industry from many smaller regional dairy companies. This provided shareholders with incredible access not only to the factory but also the directors and management of their Co-op.

The issue of engagement is not an issue that is isolated to Fonterra or the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council. Other sectors in the primary industry in New Zealand have similar challenges in keeping engaged with its farmer base. Whether it be Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, the Deer industry or Fonterra – all have explored ways to engage their farmers through segmentation strategies. (Bell, 2013)

For example in 2004 Colmar Brunton sent out surveys via mail and email to 14,548 Fonterra farmers. A total of 34.4% responded. Utilising statistical techniques they conducted a segmentation of farmers. This breaks farmers up into five key groups based on their attitude to dairy farming and the industry.

  1. Strategic Investors (16% of farmers, 16% of Milk Solids)
  2. Progressive Optimists (24% of farmers, 35% of Milk Solids
  3. Passive Smaller Players (20% o f farmers, 18% of Milk Solids)
  4. Sitters (19% of farmers, 14% of Milk Solids)
  5. Striving Young Farmers (22% of farmers, 17% of Milk Solids) (Colmar Brunton, 2004)

One of the issues seen in all these groups is that farmers are a diverse group of people and will engage at different levels for different reasons. I will not explore segmentation in this report except that it is something we must acknowledge if we are to engage farmers effectively. If we want to represent their views then they will need to be engaged and communicated with on a number of different levels that reflect where they are at in the segment. For example: Passive small players felt that Fonterra was doing a reasonable job in their eyes and they have enough information and are not hoping to get more involved with their co-op. Therefore targeting this group with more information would not be as successful as targeting the Progressive optimists – for example.

There also seemed to be a need to understand farmer engagement better and explore if the disconnect was in fact real and to what extent. It is also important that the farmer define engagement . In other words what engagement looks like to them; at what level and how d o they want to be engaged. As a body the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council may have a preconceived idea of what engagement look s like but is that how farmers see it?

In order to do this a qualitative survey was carried out with 8 Fonterra farmers in Hamilton Ward 6. The survey was conducted by way of face-to-face interviews around the kitchen table on the farmers’ farms. There was a range of age, farm size, cow numbers milked and farm systems within the ward.

Although this method uncovered some great insights around engagement that could be compared throughout the country it is also acknowledged that each ward or at least region is unique and will face different issues. However there are trends that are likely to be similar throughout the country. For example: the Colmar Brunton survey the segmentation results were broken down by each ward throughout the country (at the time there were 25 wards). In every ward each of the segments were represented therefore indicating that issues regarding engagement are relevant throughout the country. (Colmar Brunton, 2004)

Overall my survey showed that although some farmers do feel somewhat disconnected from their Co-op, as it has evolved over time, there are others who are happy with their level of engagement and connectedness. However it was clear from all those interviewed that more work needs to be done on communicating timely relevant information for farmers to give them the trust and confidence they require of the group charged to represent them.

Farmer Engagement with Fonterra Shareholders’ Council – Ross Wallis

The next step: Intensification of east coast Hill country farming.

Executive Summary

The meat and fibre industry is the second largest export earner for New Zealand and is a significant contributor to the local Gisborne/Wairoa economy. With the recent growth in the dairy industry and therefore requirement of dairy support land, sheep and beef farmers are being pushed back into the less productive country so intensification of this land needs to occur to maintain growth in regions like the East Coast. There is great opportunity to increase productivity and therefore improve profitability on sheep and beef properties and by doing so this may also help in a number of other important areas, such as; succession viability, attracting skilled staff into the industry and reducing the number of good pastoral farms lost to the forestry industry.

This project sought to identify whether utilising ‘spray and pray’, as a re-grassing tool on hill country, was an option for all East Coast hill country farmers that were looking to intensify their operations. The advantages and disadvantages of such a management practice were identified, along with best practice advice and whether there was any financial gain to be had. Alternatives to ‘spray and pray’ were explored for those not willing to take such a risk. Data was collected by surveying 21 Gisborne and Wairoa hill country farmers with a range of financial performance and management abilities and from a variety of locations within the district. The data collected, highlighted some interesting results. Those farmers that currently practice ‘spray and pray’ were in general well developed, profitable farms with good fertility status and by and large had a higher carrying capacity on average than those that were not cropping/re-grassing.

The most significant finding was that ‘spray and pray’ was not for everyone. Depending on the farmer’s current position and farming ability, ‘spray and pray’ was not the best productive and profitable option when looking at intensifying some East Coast hill country – other options needs to be addressed first. From the data collected, those that are active uses of ‘spray and pray’ or those about to start a re-grassing programme through the use of ‘spray and pray’ in the next 12 – 24 months, are in general quite progressive farmers and their farms are largely well developed, with acceptable subdivision and fertility, ready to take that next intensification step.

Following the analysis, a number of recommendations for farmers were offered. It was recommended that each farmer initially utilises the resources they have available to them (i.e. AgFirst Benchmarking Database for Gisborne/Wairoa) to clearly benchmark where their business lies. Using this information and possibly some independent advice, determine what their key priorities would be from a development point of view in order of priority (i.e. starting with the lower risk, higher returning options first). If the farmer was looking to try ‘spray and pray’ as a re-grassing tool, planning and preparation, using the experts around them and learning how to manage crops and new pasture species was essential if looking to reduce some of the risk involved – and do not take short cuts, they will only increase the overall risk.

The Next Step: Intensification of East Coast Hill Country Farming – Lynda Gaukrodger

Increasing the pace of change: Barriers and motivations for adoption in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

Executive Summary

With export sales in 2014 of over $1.6 billion, the New Zealand kiwifruit industry is one of the great horticultural success stories. However, with a target of $3 billion in export sales by 2025, the industry can’t afford to rest on its laurels. Much of the increase in revenue will be due to increase d productivity and fruit quality on-orchard, and that does not happen by default. The aim of this study is to understand how we can increase the pace of change within the industry with respect to on-orchard adoption of innovations.

Eight Bay of Plenty kiwifruit growers were interviewed about their perceived motivations for and barriers to adoption of innovations. They identified cost, a lack of evidence, conservatism, and underlying beliefs as key barriers to adoption. The need for operational efficiencies, financial benefits, and needing a solution to a specific significant issue were key motivations to adopt.

A case study of DairyNZ highlighted the use of networks and opinion leaders as key tools for accelerating change.

Two innovations in the kiwifruit industry were studied: the pre-flowering trunk girdle, and root pruning. The attributes of these innovations have significantly impacted their rate of adoption within the industry, and serve to highlight gaps in the current research and extension programmes with respect to how innovations are “sold” to industry.

Based on the information collected in this study, the following recommendations are made:

  1. Network mapping could provide so me significant insights and gains in the targeting of messages and improve the influencing of laggards;
  2. The orchard productivity innovation portfolio should continue to use the “farmer first” model by way of the on-orchard brainstorming group, and should implement a grower review process to evaluate the success of research programmes, thereby “closing the circle”;
  3. Research trials should embrace the same model, with grower participation and collaboration actively encouraged;
  4. The OPC grower trial programme should take a more participatory approach, although this will mean a scaling back of the number of trials that are under way at any one time;
  5. The attributes of an innovation should be considered when setting up research trials and planning extension activities, to take into account the barriers these may cause in the adoption decision process.

The recommendations proposed here do not make anybody’s job easier, but will lead to a greater pace of change within the industry, and set us on the path towards the $3 billion target.

Increasing the Pace of Change: Barriers and motivations for adoption in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry – Chrissy Stokes

Wealth creation: Building equity in the dairy industry.

Executive Summary

The New Zealand dairy industry has a broad range of career opportunities for people who are focused and disciplined to work their way through the stages of success. This report examines the pathways and steps to wealth creation within the dairy industry.

Research shows that career progression is not as clear cut in today’s environment as it has been over the last 20 years. The world is changing quickly and, we have to be aware of what has changed, the challenges that we face today and those that we will face in the future. Positioning yourself to take advantage of opportunities starts from the beginning of your career with, goal setting, good habits and building networks with positive people around you. These key steps will ensure that you are on the right pathway to success.

The traditional pathway for dairy progression has being through the 50:50 share milking model, but in recent years there has being a decrease in the number of farm owners employing sharemilkers. Sharemilking has played a significant role in the dairy industry providing a pathway of progression for people with the desire and hunger to succeed. Based on the decreasing number of farmers selecting the sharemilking model it is inevitable that this traditional pathway could be under threat, making progression through the industry more challenging.

New innovative structures such as equity partnerships or joint ventures now provide people with the opportunity to progress into farm ownership if this is their desired end goal.

In conclusion, this report suggests that to create greater wealth in the dairy industry farmers need to be clear on what their goals are, remain focused and be prepared to face the hurdles that may be encountered along the way. Understand the power of compounding equity, en sure you have a budget, learn how to save and invest your money wisely. It is vital to continue learning and educating yourself so you can adapt and develop the skills required to keep progressing, even when changes are out of your control.

Wealth Creation: Building equity in the dairy industry- Simon Van Der Heyden

Indigenous branding: Creating a point of difference to the New Zealand primary sector.

Executive Summary

This is an insight to how Maori the branding of New Zealand primary sector products can help to add value to our exports.

“Maori branding is a unique cultural association stories, images, names and symbols which serves to differentiate competing products or services, and to provide with the physical and emotional trigger to create a relationship between consumers and the product”. (Harmsworth & Tahi 2008)

New Zealand has a unique selling point, the one advantage we have over the rest of the world is Maori culture.

Maori culture as a brand has lots of options to offer such as:

  •  Using Maori values – rangatiratanga – integrity, manaakitanga – hospitality, kaitiakitanga – custodians or guardians, whanaunatanga – relationships, in your business and explaining to customers what they mean, how you value them and how you implement your values daily within your business .
  • There are Tohu or motifs that all tell a different story
  • Place names have existed for hundreds of years and will not change. These have a strong story to tell.

As a country we embrace and celebrate our indigenous people and culture a lot more than other countries in the world do. There should be no fear of using the culture to help add value to our product. As long as there is collaboration with local iwi, open communication and integrity with the product most iwi are proud to be able to have their unique brand and or name endorsing and promoting a quality product.

Before a company can use indigenous branding, they firstly need to know who they are. The entire company needs to know the companies vision, strategy and values. How can you tell your story if you don’t know it?

Maori brands have the ability to tell magical stories and to steal the hearts and attention of international clients , especially Asian clients who share similar values as Maori culture. The branding becomes an opportunity to tell a story and create relationships, but the product must match the story and consistently be of high value.

It is important that the farmer and the customer form close relationships. Do not allow the processor to be the story teller. The farmer and the customer talking and working together helps to build a better relationship. The customer can then pass on the story and the passion for the product to the consumer.

To grow successful indigenous brands in New Zealand, there needs to be more collaboration amongst businesses. There is a risk that there will become too many Maori brands all telling slightly different stories, but selling very similar product . All Maori have a common story, they need to work together to tell the same one.

Does Indigenous branding add value? Yes it does, but it doesn’t happen easily and there are many other aspects that need to be in line as well. A brand won’t sell a product, it will tell a story that will help the product sell itself.

Indigenous Branding: Creating a point of difference to the New Zealand Primary Sector – Stephen Thomson

Supplying compliant beef out of season: A case study on King island, Tasmania.

Executive Summary

Producing beef off grass during spring and autumn is the most common practice for King Island beef farmers. Supplying Meat Standards Australia compliant beef during winter is a common, financially rewarding and challenging system given the environment of King Island at this time of the year.

This case study looks into the supplying of compliant beef during the winter months. By lifting compliancy rates at this time of the year farm revenue will increase as a $0.20-0.40 per kilogram premium is received. Current and future production systems were looked at in an attempt to lift compliancy rates.

Supplying Compliant Beef out of Season: A Case Study on King Island, Tasmania – Richard Sutton

Stoking secondary school students interest in agriculture.

Executive Summary

The primary industry is known as the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, with large amounts of exciting and broad career opportunities. Yet as the population grows many graduates prefer to head to urban based careers in large cities, than return to heartland New Zealand and take up careers in the primary sector.

The qualitative study reported here explores what career advice is been given to our future generations regarding the primary industry, what knowledge careers advisors have of the opportunities available, and finally what stigmas/barriers there are preventing students undertaking a primary industry career.

Most schools do promote careers in the primary sector however this could be one specific career such as vet, and most admitted they don’t do it well and could do it better. The overall feeling was careers advisors knew there were a broad range of careers opportunities available in the primary sector, however there knowledge of specific jobs was average. The main stigmas associated with the primary industry were seen as Agriculture was for ‘dummies’ and the work was too hard.

Strategies to help the promotion of primary industry jobs, include rebranding agriculture in the school curriculum to something more ‘sexy’ and to introduce a one semester taster course at year 9 & 10, followed by an NCEA paper to compliment. Also the industry needs to do better to harness social media as a career selling tool, especially in Auckland.

Stoking Secondary School Students Interest in Agriculture – Jason Rolfe

Gold3: Are we driving the right behaviour.

Executive Summary

The issue of low taste being a significant risk to Gold3 was highlighted to growers very early in the Gold3 journey. Zespri was transparent with Gold3 growers about the risk and the fact that the answers lay with growers in ensuring they produced high taste fruit acceptable to the markets.

Zespri research efforts aimed at highlighting new orchard technologies to improve taste have been significant. Countless studies and trials have been done in an effort to better understand what drives high taste.

Grower engagement has been excellent from day one. Led by OPC (Orchard Productivity Centre), Zespri have used a fantastic extension programme to highlight key orchard behaviours which have influence on taste. Methods used successfully include field days, Webinars, Tech Forums, Infographics, and the availability of a plethora of easy to access information.

The Zespri payment model is complex and not easily understood by the average grower. Taste payments are designed to encourage good orchard behaviour but their effect is lessened if growers don’t fully understand the implications. Further work needs to be done to determine the percentage of growers who fully under stand the payment system and the relevant payment drivers.

The Gold3 payment system at present isn’t perfect and doesn’t adequately incentivise growers to provide high taste fruit. The 2015 Zespri Taste Review, which is currently under consultation, highlights several areas of improvement including making a higher Minimum Taste Standard and changing the TZG curve to increase the amount of money which is distributed through taste payments. These measures would likely achieve the stated goals of better rewarding growers for producing fruit the consumers want, as well as removing the tail of poor tasting fruit getting into the market.

There are several other methods of adjusting the financial model that should be considered. Re-introducing a Market Delivery Premium to those growers who provide high taste fruit would be something the growers would easily identify with. Growers are more likely to change behaviours in response to what they understand. Increasing the Gold3 Maximum Taste Payment percentage would achieve similar results to amending the TZG curve by better redistributing grower payments so more weighting is placed on taste. This method is likely to be more easily understood by growers and therefore has more potential to drive better behaviour.

Gold3: Are we driving the right behaviour? – Lorry Leydon