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Courageous leadership: A look at present day leadership in New Zealand agriculture.

Executive Summary

This report is a look at leadership in agriculture in New Zealand.
The purpose of this research is to provide a context in which leadership exists in the agricultural sector today. If we can understand the present situation and the reasons that has shaped leadership in this way, then this will give us far greater insight into the structure, skills and psyche of the sector. Once this analysis has been completed, discussion can then be had regarding what kind of leaders the future will need.
When the current context is used as a framework to look at the structure that currently exists, a pathway can be plotted to achieve this new leadership, while avoiding mistakes made in the past based on who farmers are and how they choose leaders. This gives the sector the best chance at success, by momentarily looking back and then looking forward with the current constraints in mind.

“Leadership has changed and these days’ leadership is very much about how you can get the best out of your team and the people around you. Leadership in the old days- it was very much about ‘I’ll lead, you follow’. John key is a good example of this [new] kind of leader. People say he flip flops, but it’s not flip flopping at all. He’s very good at understanding that you have to take people with you and that’s the only way you can be an effective leader and so it’s very much about the most effective leadership style for today’s environment which is taking people with you and someone that leads from within rather than someone that leads from in front. We are a much more inclusive society today. In a small country like NZ, if you go out in front and try and lead, there’s always people that want to chop you down, so I think the leadership style matches our personality in many ways. We don’t like tall poppy’s and people that go out in front. We like people that lead from within.”
The research undertaken, and the resulting report, seeks to answer questions around leadership in New Zealand Agriculture. What do we have currently and why has this evolved? What are the things that are working and not working and what aspects of leadership, sector structure and knowledge/skills do we need for our industry to have the best chance at success? The ultimate discussion focuses around the opportunities

on how we achieve this leadership and strengthen our back bone industry of New Zealand. Agriculture needs to be made more resilient and economically viable enough to withstand any challenge it is likely to face in the future.

The key opportunities discussed are:

  • A collaborative sector through combining meat, dairy and Maori Agribusiness. This is imperative and it needs to happen from the farmers right through to governance. Collaboration will allow New Zealand agriculture to align its reputation and identity as closely as possible. This will require leadership we don’t currently have and policy that currently doesn’t exist.
  • Leaders are made either by becoming accidental leaders or seeking out higher governance roles. Both leadership beginnings will be required in the agricultural sector, with training and self-awareness to understand the limitations and insights of both.
  • Diversity of the leadership within the industry is imperative. That needs to include women, Maori and other ethnicities and younger leaders. This is not about gender equality; but different perspectives helping to enrich discussion and solution based leadership. The millennials could well be the key to looking at challenges we are yet to face, with renewed vigor and courage.
  • The leadership that is required for these challenges is different to leadership in its current form.
  • A radical change in how we sell our produce and who we sell it to is required, to attract a premium to allow farming in New Zealand to stay economically viable in the face of increased costs and regulation.

There is no doubt the agricultural sector needs strong, courageous, brave, skilled leaders with good judgement. Some of this currently exists, but a larger cross section of leaders with diverse perspectives need to display these attributes. If we have these ideas about the weaknesses in the sector, we can rectify these going forward. Training and leadership organizations will help this and there should be a larger focus on professional and personal development by leadership teams and potential leaders. However, the future challenges the industry is likely to face will help to cultivate strong and courageous leadership, and this leadership will prosper.

Had time permitted, ideally more leaders would have been interviewed to bring more depth of discussion and perspective. However, the research undertaken here can be built on at some stage. More research into leadership theory by Hogan, Marlow’s hierarchy of needs and different leadership styles would further develop this research. This topic would be worthy of a comprehensive thesis, as leadership is often talked about but rarely understood.

Courageous Leadership: A look at present day leadership in New Zealand Agriculture – Sarah Bell

What does it take to be a Great Employer in 2016.

Executive Summary

The motivation to research what it takes to be a great employer in 2016? stems from the author’s 10-year involvement in the kiwifruit post-harvest sector and an acknowledgment that a number of forces both globally and within the kiwifruit industry have reshaped the employment landscape during this time. The author’s opinion is that the kiwifruit post-harvest sector has experienced a human capability deficit in recent years which has put increasing pressures on current middle and senior managers. While at the same time there has been a shift in employee preferences at a global level.

This report aims at validating the author’s anecdotal views through a globally focussed literature review and a set of semi-structured interviews of middle and senior managers in the kiwifruit post- harvest sector. Interviewees were asked to define what a great employer looks like, what motivates them and what the greatest challenges to employers within the sector are in becoming a ‘great employer.’

A key finding from the literature review was that technology and generational preferences are having a significant impact on the employer/employee relationship. The literature review was completed using a framework from the NZ Human Rights Commission ‘7 Key Elements of a Good Employer’ and adapted to being more ‘current’ based on findings. The literature review found that employees are increasingly looking to their employer to build their “personal brand”, develop a strong personal relationship with them, offer values and goals alignment, provide them with purpose and consider their wellbeing both physically and mentally through offering flexible conditions and encouraging work-life balance.

At the kiwifruit post-harvest sector level, rapid volume growth, increasing competition among post- harvest operators and increasing sophistication and complexity brought about by the industry’s strong customer focus have contributed to changing the landscape. Managers interviewed indicated that this has placed increased pressures on them. While seasonality has always been a challenge for the industry, the nature of seasonality appears to have changed. Historically, permanent staff were offered a “Work Hard, Play Hard” role where it was well accepted that long hours during a defined period over the harvest and packing season were counter-balanced by flexible work hours over the summer period of lower activity.

The outcome has been that there is a mismatch between findings of the literature review and trends within the post-harvest sector. Employees are looking for greater flexibility in their roles, improved work-life balance and enhanced wellbeing. However, longer work hours and greater stress have been a feature of work within the kiwifruit post-harvest sectors of recent years.

Managers interviewed highlighted the risk the sector faces if the industry is not able to attract talented individuals to the sector via a strong employment brand that is underpinned by more normal work hours and the other desirable features identified through this research as presented in Figure 10.
This report aims to identify what it takes to be a great employer in 2016? And identify what challenges the kiwifruit post-harvest sector faces in becoming a great employer.

What does it take to be a Great Employer in 2016 – Anthony Pangborn

What makes a strong rural community.

Executive Summary

The aim of this research was to explore ways to strengthen rural communities in New Zealand. The research focuses on the three small rural communities of Kimbolton, Apiti and Rangiwahia, all located in the northern Manawatu.

Six households were chosen from each community and invited to participate in the project. The participants were given a survey and interviewed in their homes. The survey questions covered the following things: participants’ understanding of a sense of community, rural change, community facilities and social groups, community involvement, understanding of community governance, and access to technology.

Alongside the interviews, a literature review has been done. This explores the importance of community, the concept of social capital and examines research done into communities facing change in relation to a changing rural environment.

In interviewing the participants, it was evident that community meant more than a physical or geographical location or connection. Everyone involved in the interviews talked about relationships and connections, and supporting community members, i.e. social capital.

Participants were asked to score their own community on a scale from 0 = no sense of community, to 5 = strong sense of community. The scores ranged from 1-4, with the majority sitting around 3. The desire for a strong sense of community was expressed and participants were keen to discuss what could be done to improve this.

It was evident in discussions on community governance, that all communities needed to have a more visible community vision and strategic direction. The foundation for this has been provided by work done on community planning with the Manawatu District Council. The drive now needs to come from within each community.

Participants were asked about rural change over the last ten years, and its effect on individuals and on the community. Relative newcomers to the communities talked about recent changes, while well-established members went back over 40 years to discuss the effects of dramatic change.

The importance of good infrastructure was evident. Good roads, access to fast, affordable internet and reliable cell phone coverage were all deemed essential to the communities’ wellbeing and development. For example, the recent sealing of a country road has made travel easier for residents and has also opened the area for tourist exploration.

All participants were heavily dependent on technology for social interaction, information and research, i.e. Google, business interactions and the ability to access technology for use on farms etc. Several participants talked about access to fast internet being vital in promoting the area to both a domestic and international audience. Several participants felt limited by expensive, and still unreliable, internet in the area.
Cell phone coverage remains a problem in places, particularly out on farms. Safety and ability to communicate for business needs were listed as high concerns.

The smallest community, Rangiwahia, appeared to have the highest social capital and community engagement. This is perhaps because counter-urbanisation is minimal and the community is still predominantly made up of farming families. There are very few lifestyle blocks and minimal urban influence. However, this is a community that is forward thinking, action based, and innovative with a high level of social capital.

The communities with the least cohesion had many transient farm staff and several people looking for very affordable housing and an alternative lifestyle.

The challenge here lies with successfully integrating non-rural community members into a traditional farming community. It is evident that larger communities face perhaps the most complex challenge with diverse individual and community needs.
The conclusion drawn from the research and literature review is that building strong social capital is necessary for a strong sense of community and sense of belonging.

This report concludes with four broad recommendations for actions that can be taken to support and strengthen New Zealand’s rural communities.

These are:

  1. Create Conscious Community – build social capital
  2. Build Quality Leadership – support, train and encourage
  3. Encourage Collaboration – with other local communities
  4. Community Development – social, economic and environmental

The challenge to our modern day rural communities is to embrace change and to continue to evolve. This is required to meet the needs of the 21st Century rural community. For this to be possible, communities need strong leadership, an inclusive and engaged community and the ability to think outside the box.

What makes a strong rural community – Katherine Gillespie

Starting the family succession conversations

Executive Summary

Why is family succession planning an issue we should be concerned about? It comes back to the word family. Family succession planning within the agricultural landscape conquers within, an emotional connection to the land and a cultural identity within New Zealand. There have always been family businesses running farms and there appears to be a strong desire for this to continue long into the future within New Zealand Agriculture. Family succession also deals with the love and affection of those most dear to us and with significant wealth at stake it must be done well for family relationships to be enhanced through the process.
However when it actually comes to family farm succession, no one size fits all and that is primarily why succession is still discussed, researched, and written about. It has never been an easy conversation to navigate through to the desired outcome with operating environments constantly changing and continuing to evolve. However there are processes that can enable the conversations to occur within the family business to focus them on a desired outcome they can achieve together.
In some cases the terminology of family farm succession is also beginning to change. Being referred to as an ‘intergenerational business model’ and ‘family business continuance’ where the sole concept of asset transfer has broadened to include the transfer of knowledge and experience between the generations (McLeod & Dooley, 2012). This in itself infers a shift in mind set to intergenerational or continuance indicating a natural progression through the generations as opposed to simply succeeding in the family business or a sale of an asset.
Those spoken with and throughout the literature identified numerous triggers for a family succession process to begin ranging from a death in the family, an accident or injury, marriage or divorce, son or daughter wanting to ‘come home’, age and stage, someone asking the family the question of succession, through to business opportunities being identified which require a succession conversation. The trigger point will vary depending on the family situation. Once identified by the family as a priority the process can begin and conversations initiated to determine the way forward. Key attributes contributing to the success or otherwise of the process is a commitment and good will to see an agreed outcome achieved. This will often require patience and perseverance along with mutual respect for all involved.
Communication was identified time and time again underpinning the succession conversations because this is where and how the process has to begin. Addressing the ‘icebergs’ within the family business is about clearly articulating a number of often unspoken expectations, aspirations, assumptions, concepts such as fairness and equality and ultimately what the vision of the family business actually is. The part of communication which is often forgotten is the ability to listen and respect each person’s contribution and opinion to the conversations as the process unfolds. As George Bernard Shaw stated “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.
Starting early often yields the best outcome for the family as time allows identified issues or concerns to be raised and addressed before it is too late. Dr James Lockhart points to the Dutch as an example of how to begin the conversations around family business governance. He indicates this should start from an early age discussing family business matters around the kitchen table. As the family grows and develops keeping the family involved in planning meetings and discussing the future helps to shape business principles and future conversations about their place in the business or what the future may hold. The family is exposed to the process of sharing ideas, listening and discussing plans for the current business and its future. By discussing the family business from a young age, siblings are exposed to business processes and skills which are required when it comes to more formal discussions around family succession planning.
What became clear from interviews with professionals and farmers is that strategic business planning is an area of running a family business that is not given enough priority. Rather time is spent working in the business but not on the business. The planning process involves disciplined time set aside to think about and plan for the future needs of the current business. Thinking through where are we now and where do we want to be with a plan of how to achieve that. Prioritising business planning enables a step towards succession conversations as this should come up within these planning sessions as the future is discussed. Encouraging business planning and governance principles within a family business is an important enabler for a strong platform for succession conversations to begin from.
Ultimately the outcomes of a family succession conversation will be determined by the family, for the family, as success will look different to every business. Following a structured process to succession planning which is led by a strong chair or independent facilitator to navigate a series of conversations, interviews and family meetings can enable this to occur and an outcome achieved rather than being put off or put in the too hard basket.
It is for the family to decide together what they want to see happen in the next phase of the family business cycle, how they determine that to occur, when the transfer will take place and why they want that to be their future.

Starting the Family Succession Conversations – Nathan Nelson

The dream that made us.

When looking at people and culture, it is difficult to use traditional academic processes to understand how we see the world, and how we think and feel. This is because the influences on humans tend to be more around emotions, rather than logic. Traditional academic process has been around logic or critical thinking, and this has served us well but I have strayed away from this discipline to explain the emotion behind our culture. I have chosen to deliver this paper in way that can explain the perception or the emotion of our culture – The Culture of Dairy Farming. I have also written this paper so a dairy farmer that reads this paper can easily follow the information. I have used the story telling approach to allow the reader to relate to different perspectives. The hope is to allow for a solution to develop by having a better understanding of different people’s perspectives.

I have relied on comments and perceptions from interviewees to explain an agricultural perspective. I have also conducted a survey of dairy farmers to understand how they see or think about their work and life.

The Dream That Made Us – Stuart Taylor

Organics: fat into the fire or get out of jail card.

Executive Summary

Aoroa Farms Trust sees organics as a Get Out of Jail Card!

This report was written to enable two decisions to be made:

  1. Whether or not Aoroa Farms Trust remain a conventional dairy farm or convert
    to becoming an organic dairy farm.
  2. If the decision is to convert do they supply Fonterra Coop or Organic Dairy Ag
    Hub Coop

The people involved in this business plan and who are critical to its success are the directors of the Aoroa Farms Trust Hal Harding and Penny Smart. They fully realise that they will not fulfil their goals on their own however, they will need good advice and support. During their time farming and during their due diligence on the organic conversion they have surrounded themselves with people to fill the skills gaps that they lack. Their farm consultant Rodd Hodgson, accountant Charmaine O’Shea and bank manager Bryn Hughes have been integral in helping them with their decisions; there are no plans to change this combination. Aoroa Farms Trust also have a very skilled, steady and committed staff whom they have consulted with throughout the whole organic due diligence process and from whom they have full support. Hal and Penny along with Aoroa Farms have a strong vision, set of values and clear goals regarding the farm and how they want it to be now and in the future. Hal and Penny back themselves, work well as a team and are confident that they can make an organic system work well on their farm.

The opportunity for organics domestically and more importantly through export is growing very quickly and it would appear set to grow exponentially in the short to medium term. (The Organic Aotearoa Report March 2016). There is currently an undersupply of organic dairy and as more and more consumers want to know that the food that they are consuming is good for them and just as importantly the planet, this is set to continue. There will need to be ongoing improvement in the integrity of organic products as well as less fragmentation in the organic market place amongst suppliers, for the full potential of organics to be met and continue to progress at the current rate. (https://www.marketresearchreports.com/technavio/global-organic- dairy-products-market-2015-2019).

Aoroa Farms Trust has a high debt and in order for organics to be financially sustainable on the farm, they need to have an average $8/kgMS farm-gate milk price once fully certified. Benchmarking production, costs per kgMS and farming systems with other Northland organic dairy farms (which included on farm visits), has guided the figures and predictions used in making the organic decision. Being a ‘value add’ product the organic milk price is de-linked from the conventional global commodity milk price and so more likely to be as volatile/affected by global events as conventional milk pricing. This is one of the main attractions for the conversion as well as the ongoing benefits to the environment that occur when farming organically.

Risks that are involved and are beyond the control of the Trust are the weather, as Northland is prone to drought (affecting levels of production); the stability of the global economy, geopolitical disruption and the demand and supply equation for organics, affecting price paid.

There are two options available to Aoroa Farms Trust as to a processor to supply; Fonterra Coop and the Organic Ag Hub Coop. Fonterra (whom the Farm currently supplies with conventional milk) has recently stepped up/come back into the organic milk market. Fonterra have historically been unreliable in regard to renewing contracts in Northland for organic milk. They currently offer a transition premium linked to the conventional milk price pre full certification of .45c/kgMS with the share ownership requirement the same as conventional i.e. fully shared up at the market value which is north of $5.50/kgMS currently (May 2016). The Organic Ag Hub is a new cooperative that has a business model of matching organic milk to processors only i.e. they don’t own any processing plants themselves, they are small and intimate but as yet unproven. Their transition pricing is currently higher than Fonterra’s and shares in the Ag Hub Co-op are valued at $1per kgMS with the requirement to be fully shared up if supplying transition or organic milk.

The Trust feel that the rewards are there for the conversion both financially and environmentally which fit with their values, vision and goals.

The backstop if organics do not work out would be reconvert to conventional supply.

The decision was made on the 18th May with the approval of the bank to start the conversion to Organics and supply the Organic Dairy Ag Hub from the 1/6/16.

Organics: fat into the fire or get out of jail card? – Penny Smart

Blackroom: A concept incubator for the future of coarse wool.

Executive Summary

The coarse wool industry has been described as being in a state of malaise by the existing literature and industry experts. Back in 1981 Prime Minister David Lange infamously boasted that agriculture was a sunset industry (Federated Farmers, 2014). At the time this was challenged by industry sector leaders as being false. However, whilst undertaking an analysis of the coarse wool, the research has indicated the industry has passed through the ‘sunset phase’ and now is in the ‘decline’ phase and may be irretrievable, unless major changes occur.

The primary reason for this research is to investigate the future for coarse wool. Wool is a hugely under rated product that has so many positive, environmentally conscientious and natural benefits that are being over-looked in favour of synthetic alternatives.

The report continues on from the previously titled “The New Zealand Coarse Wool Industry – Does it have a Future?” (Oliver, 2015). As reiterated in the prior report, the only way forward now for the industry in the expert’s opinion, is for the industry to commit itself seriously to advanced research to take the coarse wool fibre into new uses. This report outlines the potential of using a foresighting, backcasting concept incubator, named ‘Blackroom’.

The key to the utilization of a Blackroom futures concept is to takes the researchers away from the present and places them in the distant future, envisaging the future system state and then bringing it all back in order to determine the pathway to the future product use. The resulting outcome of the Blackroom will be to develop new research pathways for the future of the wool fibre and industry.

Blackroom: A Concept Incubator for the Future of Coarse Wool – Nicole Oliver

Bobby calves: The game changers within New Zealand’s supply chain.

Executive summary

There is significant potential for New Zealand to increase its ability to utilise more bobby calves therefore making them a more valued product. It is important that we have a sustainable, viable, ethical and PR friendly value chain. It is also important that NZ Inc. gets this right to maintain farmers/producers’ ‘social licence’ to farm and maintain our positive worldwide perception.
While difficult to calculate, it is estimated that more than $1 billion is on offer, if we can capture the full value of underutilised bobby calves.
It is acknowledged that famers all operate different policies with different values, so it is near impossible to make a recommendation that will suit all producers and fit with processors’ expectations and resources. There is a range of options which will lead to more prosperous returns for the farmers, processors and overall sector. However, more leadership is needed to make these changes at all points of the industry supply chain.
Key recommendations:

  • Increased use of beef genetics across dairy herds
  • Increased use of sexed semen across dairy herds
  • An integrated dairy beef “profit partnership” supply chain model, where everyonecaptures the value of the end product
  • Uptake of a tool which measures beef performance through the supply chain toallow a feedback loop
  • Increased farmer education on what options are available

Dairy farmers are at the start of the value chain, so it is critical that those options are easy for them and do not affect their primary objective, which is producing milk at the highest margin possible.
In implementing any of the above options, it is expected that sacrifices would have to be made and some options do not benefit everyone in the supply chain.

Bobby Calves: The game changers within New Zealand’s supply chain – Andrew Jolly

Primary connections: Leadership pathways within rural organisations.

Executive summary

A Professionalism shortage in governance, more and more organisations are beginning to expect more professionalism, from potential candidates. Although this might be the case there may not have been enough done to clarify and support the transformation. Every year thousands of people volunteer their time in leadership roles throughout the primary industry, yet there is no cross industry information to provide a pathway for these individuals to allow them to take their next step in governance and leadership
This feasibility study and research asks the question:
“Where do you go find the relevant information to get involved in the various governance roles in the volunteer based rural organisations?”
My project looks at the feasibility of a website concept that rural industry good/Non-profit organisations can use as a platform to promote the leadership pathways available within the organisation that shows short job descriptions and information on how to get involved from an entry level to high level of governance.
A one stop shop website of information on what is available to the up & coming leaders of tomorrow wanting to make a difference in the rural communities of New Zealand.
The areas of research to complete this paper have used the following methods

  1. A Literature review, to gain understanding of current used of leadership pathways and opportunities
  2. An online survey promoted via Facebook and email targeting people involved in the primary industries tounderstand their method of finding information relevant to my question.
  3. Case Study interviews that were held face to face and via email and phone, to gain an understanding howthese particular organisations promote their leadership pathways currently.

A key finding through the process of the online survey and case study interviews, found that the primary industries in the Non-profit and Industry good sector, who may rely on governance structures and people coming through to fill these roles. Haven’t consider the role that the internet and Social media can play to
advertise and show the leadership opportunities to the future leaders looking for their next step in the governance ladder. And so could be missing the oppotunity to engage this particular generation which we call the “Millennials”.
By having clear and concise information in which the “Millennials” (Researchers Neil Howe and William
Strauss defined as those born in 1982 and approximately the 20 years thereafter) crave, to collectively to tell these Future leaders the opportunities available. We can look to change the way we engage and fill these vitally important positions on the various rural governance groups in New Zealand.

Primary onnections: Leadership Pathways within Rural Organisations – Casey Huffstutler

Preparing for the changing tide.

Executive Summary

The regional council of Southland (Environment Southland) is mid-way through its Water and Land 2020 and Beyond (WL2020) Project. This project consists of three stages, and is the council’s response to the government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. It aims to prevent any further decline in water quality, and to help the Southland community achieve its goals for water.
Dairy farming has increased significantly in Southland over the previous 20 years, and is now a substantial contributor to the Southland economy. With this intensification, has come water quality pressures. The changing environmental regulations of the WL2020 project will impact Southland dairy farmers, as well as the Southland community.
The aim of this project was to investigate how Southland dairy farmers had been involved in the WL2020 process so far, and how to increase this involvement. From this, the aim was to find ways in which DairyNZ, the industry levy body, can support Southland dairy farmers to adapt to changing environmental regulations. Thirteen people, a mixture of industry members and Southland dairy farmers, who have been very involved with the WL2020 process so far, were interviewed.
It was found that engagement by dairy farmers in the WL2020 project was between 10 and 20%. This low engagement restricted the majority of dairy farmers from being able to have knowledge of the proposed rules and changes of the WL2020 project, the impacts of these and from being prepared for these impacts.
Five broad recommendations were made that would contribute to Southland dairy farmers and their communities adapting to the changing environmental regulations:

  1. Water quality is a social science issue as well as a science issue – dairy farmers must understand the water quality issue, accept that there is an issue and understand the effect of their actions on it.
  2. DairyNZ should continue what it is doing in Southland but build on this – the work of DairyNZ in Southland is effective and appreciated. There were some recommendations for building on this, but overall DairyNZ is on the right track.
  3. Engagement is the first step – dairy farmers needed to be engaged before they could have knowledge of the proposed changes, their impacts and adapt to these. Personalising the issues and one-on-one meetings were important in this step.
  4. Sustainable Milk Plans (SMPs) are an effective tool but need a follow up visit – SMPs helped increase the knowledge and preparedness for the proposed rules and changes, but a follow up visit and auditing system would increase their effectiveness.
  5. Relationships and leadership are key – relationships within the community and with ES are important. Dairy farmers must be prepared to show leadership.

It was found that Southland dairy farmers themselves have a responsibility to build relationships in their own community. Although DairyNZ has an important supporting role to play, dairy farmers must be prepared to show leadership. If this occurs, not only will Southland dairy farmers and their communities adapt to the changing environmental regulations, they with thrive within them.

Preparing for the Changing Tide – Jolene Germann