Future people capability requirements: A post farm gate perspective

Executive Summary

Major global agri-food trends and changes to the workforce in the future are expected to have an impact on people capability needed in the New Zealand primary industries. With New Zealand’s reliance on exports and competing in international markets, it is recognised that the skills and knowledge will need to keep pace with the evolving demands of society, advances in technology and changing consumer preferences across the global agri-food industry. These are expected to transform the way business is done and in particular how individuals and society interact.

In addition the current government’s focus on sustainability and the environment has also meant there has been a greater emphasis for the primary industries to transition from commodity based agricultural products to high value.  People capability, in particular skills that are required post farm gate, is a core asset that will underpin the success of gaining more value out of the products produced and adapting to the accelerating pace of change.

Focusing on the primary industries people capability requirements post farm gate, in particular concentrating on those that add value to agriculture commodities and/or creating high quality premium products and services, the aim of this research project was to:

  1. Gain an understanding of international agribusiness and workforce trends to identify how these may impact on New Zealand primary industries and the people capability required in future.
  2. Discuss the people capability requirements in relation to the primary industries post farm gate and identify core people capability themes and skill sets required by those adding value to agriculture commodities and/or creating high quality premium products and services
  3. Discuss people capability initiatives currently being undertaken by organisations/sectors in the primary industries in relation to post farm gate requirements.
  4. Identify ways to attract and build talent at a post farm gate level.

Key findings from this research project:

  • It is expected by that there will be many changes to business and within the primary industries in the next 10 years, more so than that has occurred historically. Much of this will be driven by consumer demands and technology advancements. Adapting to these while transitioning to value added export will require different skill sets and capabilities to those needed today.
  • While it is expected that by 2025 around 230,000 people out of a workforce of 369,700 will be required post farm gate, many of the current industry initiatives tend to focus on attracting and building people capability within the farm gate and at a production level rather than having a view to what skills are needed in order to gain more value out of the products produced at other levels along the value chain.
  • Many of the technical skills and qualifications that were thought to be needed post farm gate for those that add value and/or create high quality products/services were customer and market focussed. The importance of the capabilities required to develop markets internationally came through strongly given New Zealand relies on exporting the majority of what is produced by the primary industries. A review of industry people capability initiatives indicates that there is currently only a small focus on this.
  • Although a qualification and/or background in food production or the primary industries is useful, transferable ‘soft’ skills are recognised as being most important given the pace change businesses are experiencing. Agility and adaptability, attitude, communication, empathy and understanding, building relationships were rated as the top skills needed now and in future.
  • There has been a big effort to incorporate agriculture in education and engage youth with the primary industries. However there does not seem to be a supporting or coordinated industry wide approach that captures or connects the pool of potential talent that has been previously building, potentially undoing the work of these initiatives.  This occurs in particular at the post farm gate level.
  • People capabilities post farm gate require a range of skills and qualifications not specific to the primary industries and can be gained through a number of institutions. Currently sectors seem to limit post farm gate talent pool with many focusing on qualifications or specific degrees in relation to agricultural subjects received from a select few institutions.
  • Overwhelmingly the perception of the primary industries is seen as one of the biggest challenges with attracting and building people capability not just at post farm gate, but also within the farm gate. In order to attract the people capability required for the future, it was identified that a consistent overarching story/message that is exciting, relevant, inspiring, that resonates and connects the industry to food rather than the term ‘primary industries’ is fundamental.

The following recommendations are points that warrant further investigation:

  1. Determine and develop an overarching industry wide story to create a consistent message that links sectors and the industry to food more clearly.
  2. Provide increased focus on attracting and developing the skills required post farm gate at differing levels. In particular initiatives to help build international and in-market experience.
  3. Create a central platform to capture and connect the talent that is being built by current initiatives engaging with youth.
  4. Target a wider skill base than the narrow group that is currently being targeted and promoted to by current initiatives.
  5. Further investigate future workforce design and apply this to the post farm gate businesses as a way of attracting, developing and retaining talent in the industry.

There are broader aspects to this subject that have been explored but not elaborated on.  Overall it is hoped that this research project will offer insights and provide discussion points to what is needed in terms of attracting and building people capability post farm gate going forward.

People Capability in the New Zealand Primary Industries_A focus on post farm gate – Nicky Brown

Meat without the moo: The life-cycle analysis of alternative proteins.

Executive Summary

Global food systems are experiencing unprecedented changes in the way food is produced, distributed and consumed.  Food systems are highly dependent on fossil fuels, emit large quantities of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and significantly contribute to environmental problems (FAO, 2006).  Agricultural farming systems particularly in New Zealand are under increasing pressure given the growing awareness of agriculture’s contribution to GHGs and deteriorating water quality.

New Zealand’s social, environmental and economic wellbeing is linked with our ability to supply the rest of the world with protein.  Animal-based protein production alone accounted for over 60% of our total 2016/17 primary export revenue (Sutton et al., 2018).  A temperate climate combined with advanced production systems make the NZ dairy, sheep and beef industries among the most competitive in the world.  Consequently, increasing world demand for food will be a significant factor in New Zealand’s economic growth and prosperity over the next half century (Hilborn and Tellier, 2012).

Consumer concerns around the impacts of agriculture on the climate, animal welfare and water quality are increasingly influencing their purchasing decisions as they look to reduce their environmental impact including their contribution to climate change (Goldberg, 2008).  This demand has led scientists to develop alternatives to animal protein from farmed animals.  These alternatives have been coined “Alternative Proteins”.

This report outlines two types of alternative proteins, these being plant based proteins and cultured meat.   Plant based proteins are currently in market, whilst cultured meat is still under development.  Cultured meat has the greatest potential to displace traditional farming as if successful it could address the environmental issues created from large scale intensive farming, by growing meat in a laboratory setting.  However to be viable and to successfully compete against real meat, cultured meat needs to overcome a number of challenges. These include issues around public perception, cost, the ability to scale and the ability to deliver on environmental benefits.

Significant financial investment is being made into the research and development of alternative proteins and current estimates predict cultured meat will be in market within the next 5 to 10 years.

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was carried out as part of this report comparing the environmental impacts of cultured meat in comparison to NZ Beef.  The results showed that production of 100g of cultured meat requires 0.021m3 water, 0.022m2 land and emits 0.207 kg CO2-eq Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.  In comparison to New Zealand Beef, Cultured Meat involves approximately 91% lower GHG emissions, 99% lower land use and 99% lower water use. Despite high uncertainty, it is concluded that the overall environmental impacts of cultured meat production are substantially lower than those of conventionally produced NZ beef.

Cultured meat is still in the development phase, so it is too soon to know whether cultured meat will be a marketable product, or whether the estimated environmental impacts presented here will be able to be achieved.

In order to remain profitable and sustainable in to the future, NZ agriculture needs to work on being the best that we can be in terms of our systems and practices.  We need to work collaboratively both as a country and as an industry to market our products with a strong natural, grass-fed message.  We need to target our products to the markets willing to pay the highest prices for these and continually look for opportunities to add further value to these products.  Furthermore we should look for opportunities to diversify our farming and meat processing operations.  Lastly we need to continually invest in NZ agriculture, market research and our communities in order to future proof our industry.

Given the shortfall in the current food supply predictions to feed the worlds growing population by 2050, it is anticipated that there will be room in the market for both alternative proteins and traditionally farmed meat.  Nevertheless there is an increasing awareness of the impact of agriculture on the environment, on animals and on human health, which NZ Agriculture needs to stay abreast of.

Meat without the Moo: The life-cycle analysis of alternative proteins – Suzanne Young

Planting manuka in the South Island of New Zealand to develop the economic value of manuka honey and impact on the apiculture sector.

Executive Summary

This paper is a literature review aiming to improve understanding of the potential of planting Manuka in the South Island to produce high value manuka honey, and what impact that will have on both the farming and apiculture sector.

It is obvious very early on in this process that while the Manuka honey boom seems to deserve the hype, the reality of delivering on this promise in the South Island, and particularly in areas where Manuka is not naturally occurring, isn’t quite as straight forward as it seems.

In reviewing the history of manuka and the importance of manuka honey to the apiculture sector, I have been able to establish a very clear view of the position of this product in the market. This “excitement” is a double edged sword, products that have such a high profile and such high levels of interest quickly become the objects of strong worldwide competition and we are seeing this with Manuka honey at the moment.

The paper extends into the considerations for planting manuka in the South Island and whether in fact this is a viable option for most landowners and a review of available material, alongside my own commercial apiculture knowledge and that of others in my sector, would suggest that currently the unknowns outweigh the benefits and that it should be treated with caution.

This paper recommends farmers who are interested in profiting from manuka plantations should start with developing shelter belts, riparian margin and utilising the plant for erosion control. Farmers should harness the plants’ natural ability to protect the land and still have full use of the land for farming, while claiming the carbon credits. Farmers should identify and partner with an apiculturist using the list of recommendations I have made in this paper to begin the process of capturing the nectar. Farmers can then be involved in the early establishment of new research and testing and have the opportunity to adapt and grow as key learnings are shared.

Planting Manuka in the South Island of New Zealand to develop the economic value of Manuka Honey and impact on the apiculture sector- Steve Wootton

Establishing and operating a sweet cherry orchard in Central Otago.

Executive Summary

This business plan, to establish and operate a cherry orchard in Central Otago, intends to achieve the following objectives:

  • Understand the costs of establishing and operating a cherry
  • Gain an overview of the challenges and risks within the
  • Understand the market dynamics for NZ produced cherries and what the future market trends might

To be fully informed, and in order to make reasonable judgements, the report was compiled using the following methods:

  • Personal interviews with current orchardists to understand current practices, risks that affect production and developments in growing
  • Speaking with horticulture consultants to appreciate the current trends in orchard systems and the more successful approaches to
  • Technical literature review of new planting systems and the development of automation and technology in
  • Direct discussion with product suppliers and manufacturers, agronomists, orchardists and accountants to compile accurate development and operational
  • Interviews of industry leaders who have a good overview of market dynamics and industry challenges

The conclusions drawn from this report include;

  • A continual strong demand from export markets for premium NZ cherries that current supply cannot completely satisfy. A trend which is expected to
  • Chile is a key competitor to NZ grown cherries producing high volumes and exporting at a similar time of year. This highlights the necessity for NZ to continue to focus on premium quality fruit and high value
  • There is a greater need of collaboration and market co-ordination for NZ
  • Capital cost of establishing a cherry orchard is
  • Growing risks are high though many can be
  • New planting systems offer increased yields and reduced operating costs though have approximately 20% higher capital

The report is intended to help any people thinking about entering this sector and establishing an orchard.

Establishing and operating a sweet Cherry Orchard in Central Otago – Simon Witheford

A strategy to communicate and engage members of a dairy cooperative.

Executive Summary

This report is an analysis and evaluation of the strategies to communicate and engage members of a New Zealand dairy co-operative (co-op).

It has been written with three aims in mind. Firstly, this report has the aim of becoming a discussion piece exploring a new frontier of how dairy co-ops need to connect and engage with their members. The second aim is to highlight the importance of learning from past research and literature, so we can make informed decisions, today. And thirdly, this report aims to share and grow the understanding and effect of co-operative member engagement.

A strong research-based strategy is at the core of this report’s methodology. Literature reviews have been conducted to gain an understanding of co-operative lifecycles and connection between financial and social capital. The reviews also establish change in member demographics, generational differences, and connection and engagement models. The method of co-op member strategic analysis includes a survey of 670 farmer shareholders and 3,393 employees, as well as key feedback from six farmer shareholders and six employees who engaged in an overnight farmer bulleting program.

The keys findings of this report highlight the need for dairy co-operatives in New Zealand to apply strategies that align with 4 key member needs; sustainable financial performance, greater purpose, empowering communities through looking after the environment and being a national champion. Engagement is essential for co-operative survival, it is vital these themes are addressed to ensure their license to operate remains strong. Engagement is key for not only shareholders, employees, but also the public who will expect higher social, environmental and economic standards.

As change is inevitable, it is vital shareholders are a part of change journey to ensure their voice is heard in any co-operative strategy. Therefore, I would recommend conducting further research that would entail, exploring the implementation and effectiveness of many of these recommended engagement strategies:

  1. Conducting a focus group of participants who are willing to test strategies to measure their effectiveness to overall engagement
  2. Identify their initial mindset and level of engagement but conducting formal interviews/ surveys with set questions before the strategies are tested
  3. Identify where the participants would like to go to in regard to engagement
  4. Implementation of trial strategy and recording of key events with participant’s involvement to track overall movement. Key months of implementation and timing would be outside of the calving season, with the variation of trial time varying between each strategy
  5. Conduct a further formal interview/ survey to track any movement experiencing during the implementation of the trial strategy
  6. Gather feedback from stakeholders involved with strategy trials and seek feedback from participants
  7. Implement changes to advance engagement for co-operative members

A strategy to communicate and engage members of a dairy cooperative – Ryan West

What are the implications of technologies on rural banking by the year 2030

Executive Summary

The report titled: What are the Implications of Technologies for Rural Banking by Year 2030 sets out to establish the following key aims:

  • What the major technologies are, that are most likely to significantly impact the New Zealand Rural Banking sector.
  • To understand the implications of these technologies and their likely impact on the Rural Banking sector.
  • To provide recommendations as to how NZ Rural Banks should respond.

A literature review was undertaken in order to gain a good understanding thereof.  This entailed extensive literature reading.
In addition, informal discussions were also held with bank executives to ascertain a balance of viewpoints.

Key findings of the report are as follows:

  • Technological change is happening now and is changing banking rapidly. By 2030 there is expected to be major changes reshaping the sector.
  • Technologies will bring about both risks and opportunities for all involved.
  • Whilst New Zealand (NZ) Rural Banks could be considered a niche industry, it is not immune to a lot of new technologies.
  • New Zealand (NZ) Rural Banks are at risk of disruption if they do not adapt rapidly and continuously.
  • There will be an impact on humans, both positive and negative.
  • The human interface between rural banking and its rural customers will remain vitally important.

What are the Implications of technologies on rural banking by the year 2030 – Richard Thomson

Sharemilkers’ and contract Milkers’ relationship between financial literacy and health and well-being.

Executive Summary

An exploratory study was completed that builds on prior research, in particular work that was completed on distress and burnout among NZ dairy farmers (Botha and White, 2013).  Also relevant to this project is a Kellogg project on financial literacy. (Wayne Berry, 2009).  My motivation in this research work is for it to be a catalyst for change in the financial literacy, and mental health spaces.

The objectives of this report are:

  1. To explore the relationship between financial literacy and health and wellbeing for sharemilkers.
  2. To highlight to the dairy industry that the health and wellbeing of sharemilkers is still a big issue; and that steps need to be taken to improve support mechanisms for those farmers.
  3. That for contract milkers especially financial literacy is weak and education opportunities need to be improved to increase their financial management abilities.
  4. To make recommendations to the industry about improving and promoting courses relevant to sharemilkers that will improve their financial literacy.

There is general acceptance that within the dairy industry the level of financial literacy of dairy farmers is low.  Emotional health and wellbeing has dropped to unacceptable levels where farmers are battling depression and contemplating suicide.  The emotional health and wellbeing of farmers is critical to the individuals and families involved, and also has a big impact on local communities and the wider New Zealand economy.

After discussions with Mark Paine (ex DairyNZ/Currently a Consultant) it was decided to focus in this report on sharemilkers. We agreed they are the group who are the most vulnerable now.  There are also farm owners, managers, immigrants and young people just starting out that face multiple challenges.  Many of the findings and discussion in this report will be relevant to people right across the dairy industry.

The method of completing this work was a series of semi-structured interviews with both rural professionals and sharemilkers.  Primarily the approach was qualitative.  A key part of the process was for the participants to complete a self-assessment test for both financial literacy and health and wellbeing.

The key findings from the rural professionals interviewed were:

  • That farm ownership as the end goal for sharemilkers has become even more challenging
  • By improving your financial literacy there will be many positive impacts on the farm business
  • That the health and wellbeing of sharemilkers has deteriorated over the last ten years due to a multitude of factors such as volatility of payout, relationship with farm owners, physical workload, staff issues, environmental compliance and public perception.

The key findings from the sharemilkers interviewed were:

  • That the most important support networks are family and friends.
  • That there was a strong correlation between high levels of financial literacy and positive health and wellbeing results.
  • That it is often a combination of factors which cause health and wellbeing issues.
  • That the relationship with farm owners is the leading issue in the study that causes health and wellbeing issues.

The key recommendations are:

  • For a pan-industry meeting to occur to bring the right people and organisations together to discuss the issues in regards to health and wellbeing, and put our case to government for further funding.
  • To increase the industry good levy so more funding is available for health and wellbeing.
  • An upskilling of rural professionals with the Oldenberg Burnout Inventory test and health and wellbeing training.
  • To instigate discussions with education providers to ensure there are courses available for contract milkers and managers to improve their financial literacy.

Sharemilkers’ and Contract Milkers’ relationship between financial literacy and health and well-being – Mark Speight

Virtual fencing: Leading the digital transformation of New Zealand pastoral farming.

Executive Summary

The first settlers were recognised for establishing farms and runs by breaking in land, building boundary fences, establishing key farm infrastructure, processing facilities and forging development of new distribution channels. Pastoral farming[1] rapidly became the mainstay of the New Zealand economy, creating the fabric of rural communities, provincial towns and provided the opportunity for urban citizens to flourish. The last 20 – 30 years has witnessed exponential change globally in land use, ownership, labour supply, technology and urbanisation. As the resulting global expansion puts pressure on natural resources measures of value, priorities and political points of view, the need for change is being realised and vocalised.

In this research there is an exploration of digital transformation forming the convergence of the physical and biological world, with the digital and virtual world in the context of pastoral farming and virtual fencing. Readers will be familiarised with the establishment and use of fences, the associated legislation, a foundation of livestock and pasture management and the art of livestock grazing to formulate the basis of fencing today. This holistic view provides the backdrop to understand the opportunity virtual fencing has for digitally transforming existing farming practices and assessment against industry priorities and political policies driven by voters, consumers and shareholders.

The research provides the following broad conclusions:

  • The uses of fences on pastoral farms are proven through history and fundamentally aren’t expected to change despite the introduction of virtual fencing technology.
  • Other than pest or wild animal control virtual fencing has the potential to be a foundation technology and catalyst for digital transformation of New Zealand pastoral farming.
  • Virtual fencing will resolve or enable the resolution of many of the items represented in the contextual overview by Hon. Damien O’Connor, the Grassroots Roundtable, the industry priorities and political policies.
  • Most importantly, to achieve digital transformation and therefore large-scale change will require strong leadership from the pastoral industry, technology innovation and regulatory changes from government to shift from the status quo.

The following smooth the way for adoption and to capitalise on the opportunities presented for virtual fencing:

  • Monitor New Zealand trials of virtual fencing technologies.
  • Review research relating to environmental exclusion zones and perform detailed cost benefit analysis.
  • Appoint industry lead working group/s to drive legislation reviews and changes.
  • Investment in digital transformation strategies for pastoral farming.

Disruption of New Zealand pastoral farming will be determined by voters and the industry stakeholders as masters of New Zealand’s destiny on the supply side or by international business and consumers on the demand side to reach new value. Leaders need to inspire pastoral farming beyond the status quo in order to capitalise on Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, like virtual fencing, to improve national productivity and move the value web into the global frontier position across food and fibre production, processing and products.

[1] Pastoral farming is a form of agriculture aimed at producing livestock, rather than growing crops. Examples include dairy farming, raising beef cattle, and raising sheep for wool (Wikipedia, 2018).

Virtual Fencing: Leading the digital transformation of New Zealand pastoral farming -Greg Shepherd

Collaboration of the primary sectors to educate tomorrows consumers.

Executive Summary

Our world in 2018, is one where perception is reality and the new industry buzz word is consumer-centric.  In a world where primary industries need be obsessed with their consumer it begs the question, what is the customer’s perception of their food and its production?  Highlighted to me two years ago when hosting a group of children on farm, I was asked if my cows’ poo in the river.  Very confidentially I was able to take them to our pristinely planted, fully fenced wetland area and explain that there was absolutely no way our cows could get into or poo in any water.  That six year old’s perception was then dispelled and she got to see the truth, the reality.  It got me thinking that if a child from my local city had that perception, what did children understand in relation to their food and its production?  Where did that perception come from at this age?  How can primary food producers educate children in the truth so they become well informed consumers of tomorrow?  To be consumer-centric and future focused, primary sectors need to understand their future consumers, to be able to educate them so they are less likely to be influenced by mistruths and negative hype.

To start a survey was completed by 80 students (aged five and six) to gauge their understanding of food and where it comes from.  Questions were also asked on their lunch box items, who cooked their evening meal and what that usually contained.  The findings suggested that overall children knew most dairy, fruit and vegetable foods but meat was not overly known.  Low levels of understanding in where the foods came from particularly in the meat, protein, root vegetable and fruit food groups.  Mothers were generally the most influential in regards to cooking in the home and protein food was the most consumed dinner food.  Interestingly vegetable consumption at dinner overall was only 46% which is also what the health statistics for our children are nationwide.

The current health statistics for New Zealand’s five to nine year olds are sad reading with only 74% of children aged five to nine consuming the recommended daily amount of fruit and 45% the recommended intake of vegetables.  The other major concern is that 32% of these children are either overweight or obese.  Other statistics state that one in four New Zealand children are living without the basics and because of this there are many organisations that provide food into schools, most of these are not government funded but volunteer or corporate funded.  In a country where we produce some of the most nutritious food in the world why is this the case?  Why are some New Zealand children going to school hungry and not reaching their full academic potential?  As a nation we need all children to be educated, healthy functioning members of society.

From challenges come opportunities, the first is for primary sectors to come together and collaborate or cooperate to create a New Zealand food board, were primary sectors can all learn about each other’s primary industries to shape the New Zealand food story.   Education of tomorrow’s consumers will be a vital part in providing a future where our consumers are healthy, well educated, and food knowledgeable with that perception being reality.

Collaboration of the Primary Sectors to Educate tomorrows consumers – Belinda Price.

Carbon neutral red meat brand.

Executive Summary

This paper examines whether there is demand for a carbon neutral attribute on a red meat brand offering.

The vision for how supply criteria of this product would need to be met is modelled on milk and wool supplier criteria from added value brands. The certification of the carbon neutral status of the product would be determined by an external auditor, in this case, carboNZero administered by EnviroMark.

In order to establish demand for this product attribute, Google Trends and BuzzSumo were searched for relevant interest levels from worldwide consumers. These searches showed that little interest existed in carbon neutral food, let alone red meat products. Consumers were more likely to link red meat to climate change in a negative association, than to be seeking out products that could be carbon neutral.

Domestic, New Zealand-based demand for this type of product offering was measured using a Minimum Viable Product Approach. This researcher used a website landing page complete with email address catcher, a Facebook business page and a series of targeted Facebook and Instagram advertisements that reached over 22,000 individuals measured the response and interest from kiwi consumers. The result of this testing generated some strong emails of interest, but broadly little traction or active interest.

Finally, a literature survey was used to assess the idea of creating and marketing a carbon neutral red meat product to send offshore. Pivotal to this research was a Beef + Lamb study of consumer preferences in California, USA and Shanghai, China. Further studies had looked at the concept of carbon labelling, with the assumption that this will be widespread in the medium term. This research highlighted that while a segment of consumers are interested in buying carbon neutral or low carbon food, they may not be interested enough to spend more to buy it, and also that on its own the carbon neutral attribute does not meet enough consumer needs to be an attractive offering and needs to be combined with other attributes that consumers are demanding.

So the recommendations are for market testing to continue to overseas and domestic markets to gauge the moment that consumers are looking for this type of product offering. New Zealand needs to make sure that our companies are adopting internationally recognised standards for determining carbon neutrality. As this awareness matures, it could quickly affect our access to overseas markets.

Carbon neutral red meat brand – Siobhan O’Malley