Strategies or creating and implementing sustainable change programmes.

Executive Summary

Water quality issues in New Zealand have become a top political issue, with the public demanding action be taken against the agriculture sector to ensure our rivers and lakes are returned to a “swimmable” state. Numerous policies and plans have been developed throughout the country to address these issues, with many regional councils creating rules which require farmers to operate at “good management practice” (GMP). For GMP to be effective in improving water quality, potentially thousands of farmers will need to make changes to their day to day farming practices over a sustained period of time. Programmes which are created to support the uptake of GMP by farmers need to ensure the changes become a normal part of the daily farming operation in order to improve water quality in the long-term. I have called these types of initiatives “Sustainable Change Programmes”.

This project has investigated the success (or not) of similar sustainable change initiatives introduced either here or overseas in order to identify the key factors which either enhance or hinder the success of these type of programmes. I have applied these key themes to critically assess two New Zealand case studies, which highlight different types of change programmes; the Motueka Integrated Catchment Management project and Synlait’s Lead with Pride programme.

I found no single template will work for all people in all circumstances. Each programme needs to be tailored to address their specific issues or outcomes, the existing capability and knowledge of people involved, the anticipated timeframe to see the change and the resources available.

The most consistent theme I identified in sustainable change programmes was the need to build trust and allow the time to do this successfully. Programme organisers need to ensure farmers could trust the people they worked with, can trust each other and other stakeholders, they need to trust the information they were provided and they need to trust the tools being recommended as a “solution”. Without trust, there will be limited engagement and uptake of the desired changes. Every interaction with a participant is an opportunity to build, or lose, trust. Therefore, supporting multiple positive interactions between participants, implementers and key stakeholders will support the development of trust between all those involved. Investment in high quality people, who know how to deliver the message competently is a critical part of building trust.

The structure of the programme needs to be set up to best address the timeframes and community expectations for delivery. Mandatory or regulatory structures are often most effective for large scale, short term projects, which need a result quickly, but not a change in values. Whereas voluntary programmes tend to have higher rates of engagement, but poor participation and market driven programmes tend to have a balance of both.

Throughout the whole process, project developers and implementers need to constantly refer back to the people who are affected to ensure the project is focussing on the right issues, to collect the right information and to communicate everything in the most effective way.

Strategies For Creating and Implementing Sustainable Change Programmes – Eva Harris

How has the financial viability of Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough changed over the last five years in three major growing areas.

Executive Summary

The financial viability of Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough has never been stronger, showing returns on investment for the 2015/16 season of 24.47%, now who wouldn’t chase returns like that? Growers and investors are purchasing the remaining bare flat land to develop and keep up with world demand this is seeing record prices paid for both bare land and existing vineyards.

I undertook a literature review in conjunction with interviewing three growers, I was better able to understand the characteristics of the Marlborough wine region its sub regions, and how these characteristics play out in the flavour of the wine, value of the land and the factors that are driving the current expansion.

What I wasn’t aware of before undertaking this report was just how well this industry was performing and had been over the last 5 years peaking last season as mentioned above, I quickly learned that if we suggest these things to be cyclic then it would appear to me that we are very high in the cycle right now, are we at the peak or do we still have room to move? This report will give you an understanding of where the market is today.

How has the financial viability of Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough changed over the last five years in three major growing areas? – George Millar

Farming in the family with positive succession planning and governance.

Executive Summary

The fundamental drive behind completing this research is to identify various key procedures and initiatives that successful New Zealand family businesses instrument to ensure their achievements and wealth are passed down through the generations successfully. I was also concerned in clearly recognizing some of the common issues which arise in family succession strategies and methods in which these matters may be avoided.

This project will benefit the rural community to hopefully provide an insight into farming families to think about the big picture and long-term viability of their business. I want the project to benefit farming families and professional advisors by also providing some context around governance and effective structures which have been planned. I hope the rural industry will relate to this report and understand that all families are different and not one plan will work for everyone. I want this report to provide guidance around communication and when and how to remove the elephant in the room, leading to successful conversations and positive outcome for all parties involved.

Succession planning is the progress of a strategy that ensures transition of the family farm, from one generation to another with minimal disruption. Succession planning can often be a living document to safeguard all family relationships and future ownership of assets, aspirations and involvement in the farm. Rushed or poorly planned and implemented succession strategies can have major impacts on family relationships along with extreme financial implications on the business.

What I relished most about putting this research paper together and gathering the required data was the chance to spend time with farming families who had extremely successful industry knowledge; and sit around the kitchen table with them and speak openly about their own businesses and experiences. They each happily shared with me the issues and barriers they had challenged along the way, and what they had learnt along the way from any mistakes. These people have been there and done it and could share their real stories with passion; their experiences and knowledge in my opinion, is considerably more valued than any other material source obtainable. I enjoyed this part of my research to be extremely exciting, and it reiterated to me how much I enjoy the Agriculture industry and what a joy it is to be involved in.

From gathering my data for this literature report I have made three recommendations for effective and successful farm succession of the family farm.

  1. Start early with conversations to avoid any assumptions or expectations which members of the family may have. These discussions should start at an early age, as young people’s interests do change, along with abilities and skill set. A poorly executed plan and approach can often be put together at short notice with damaging effects to family relationships.
  2. Open communication to stimulate a range of sophisticated thinking throughout the farm succession process will help to get an enhanced understanding of all family members’ idea and vision for the family farm. In my opinion both farming and non-farming family and spouses should be involved in this communication. It is also essential to seek independent advice from a succession facilitator, and have other trusted advisors involved including Bank Manager, Accountant, Lawyer, and Farm consultant.
  3. Document everything with a completed business plan which is handed to all family members. Consider including minutes from meetings, farm succession strategy including timeframes, roles and responsibilities, goals, and updated wills.

Farming in the family with positive succession planning and governance – Chris Sclater

Growing wine grapes in an undercover system

Executive Summary

Thinking outside of the square and challenging the status quo is and will become more and more important as we see challenges to the primary industries. The changing consumer preferences and urbanisation of our communities is and will continue to erode at the traditional way of farming and growing in New Zealand, and the world over. How do we combat this and retain a highly valuable primary production systems in New Zealand.

The simplistic answer is for us to evolve and change in line with consumer preferences and what is accepted by society, we can see this happening all around us. Cage free eggs in all major supermarkets by 2027, Low alcohol wines gaining a market share from relative obscurity only a few years ago, chicken free chicken and artificial proteins becoming available to consumers, that were highly expensive prototypes at the start of the decade. But what do we need to do to evolve?

The question then lies, “how do we keep ahead of the curve” and “how do we maintain relevance in todays society.” The answer to this is complex and not straightforward, but it all starts in one place, asking questions and challenging the status quo, not being content with how things are, or how they are progressing. Always asking why.

I will use the example here of looking to grow wine grapes in a semi-protected or undercover system. I have investigated and continue to evaluate this as part of my professional role as a viticulturalist, and for the Kellogg programme. Also I will try to understand the process of thinking outside of the square, as well as provoke thought about all our systems and processes, and encourage you to always be looking forward for a new and novel solution.

Growing Wine Grapes in an Undercover System – Caleb Dennis

The Agricultural Lure: Understanding the awareness of the read meat sector at high school level.

Executive Summary

Each of the sectors within the primary industry has an ageing population of employees. These people are going to need replaced by 2025 (as Julian Raine spoke about during the panel discussion, phase one of course 36 the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme). The red meat sector is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing employer and provides jobs for 25,000 people.

This research looks into whether the awareness of careers within the red meat sector at high school is having an impact on the overall employment rate within the sector. Thematic analysis is used to identify different perspectives and answers – to discover the understanding across the education sector. An interview data set of 70 people was used to understand the awareness of the red meat sector at high school level.

Promotion of careers across the sector is constrained due to low overall career awareness and lack of exposure at both a teacher and student level. Awareness of the red meat sector is primarily focused at farm level and not on the big picture, as reflected in the stigma of agriculture and practical occupations. More emphasis on telling our story and pathways through the sector are needed to help clarify awareness and understanding.

As generational change continues, communication methods and resources supplied need to be considered, while continuing to be positive and confident as an industry.

The main findings from this research are

  • More emphasis on telling our story and pathways through the sector are needed to help clarify awareness and understanding.
  • We need to continue embracing changes for positive rewards and take advantage of the skill set of the next generation of workforce.
  • The stigma of agriculture and practical occupations remains. They are not seen as prestigious.

There is a need to rebrand the term ‘red meat sector,’ change the mentality of our industry, and tell our story more effectively. Educating educators and creating clearer career pathways through apprentice programmes is needed for success into the future. Collaboration for more exposure opportunities and simplifying systems and resources are key recommendations.

The Agricultural Lure: Understanding the awareness of the read meat sector at high school level – Olivia Ross

Is the dairy farm training working?

Executive Summary

Is there an issue with how dairy farm staff are being trained off farm and is this giving the results the farmers need. For the diary sector to continue to farm in New Zealand we need to make sure that our staff are well trained in all aspects of farming not just the day to day work but also financial skills and we now also need to train the soft skills of management as well as the importance of how we are perceived by the Urban sector.

Is it important to have clear roles in a business and why is this and what are the outcomes if we get this right or wrong.

In The Inescapable Laws of Organizational Structure;

  1. Fritz also argues that organizations are structured either to advance or to oscillate . Advancement is a positive move from on state to another that acts as a foundation for further advances. Fundamental to structural advancement is the concept of resolution when an outcome is achieved and a particular problem is resolved. According to Fritz (1996:6), management in an organization that is structured to advance coordinate ‘individual acts into an organizational tapestry of effective strategy.’ When all the individuals in this utopian organization are acting together, the result is synergy, allowing the achievement of ‘enormous feats.’
  2. The alternative is structural oscillation. Fritz (1996:6) explains this: ‘Oscillating behaviour is that which moves from one place to another, but then moves back towards its original position.’ So many organizations set out on some change program, full of enthusiasm and energy. But, six months later, the enthusiasm has evaporated and the program peters out leaving very little changed.

Is The Dairy Farm Training Working? – Edward Von Randow