As I write, we are experiencing what I describe as weather less than ideal for good farming operations. Following droughts in several regions, there have been periods of dry and cold and then extreme rain deluges causing damage to both pastures and infrastructure.
Being farmers, we work both in the weather and with the weather so it is always very much top of our minds. Other important things we need to cope with are;
income adequacy, (the prices of the products we produce)
cost control (cost of money, fertiliser, energy, machinery, labour etc) and
increasing compliance costs, (government regulations, taxation, rates, environment, employment, health & safety and emission legislation and food processing restrictions).
No wonder it’s hard to be a successful farmer!
The world population has now passed 8 billion humans and nearly ALL our food comes from farming, and the 2% (or less) of the population who are farmers worldwide face real challenges to make a profit. In New Zealand we all enjoy watching the long running TV series Country Calendar however we think this is a ‘feel good’ program that portrays success and likely gives non-farmers a rose coloured version of what farming is really like.
Programs, while entertaining, but also give an idea of the frustrations and difficulties involved with farming would be Nadia’s Farm or Jeremy Clarkson on his farm “Diddly Squat”.
Imagine being a farmer in Ukraine, historically a highly productive food producer but now under physical attack from their neighbours?
New Zealand Grazing supports charities such as Meat the Need and Gumboot Friday and we recently engaged with Karina Knowles from the Rural Support Trust who help guide farmers who are under stress.
Being very close to farming, we are very aware of the difficulties faced by those people in the field who front up in all weather with long hours and difficult decisions to make.
Sustainability is a bit of a buzz word used by people who look at farming from the comfort of a full tummy, however I think a more valuable resource is the resilience of the people who actually work to produce the food and I am continually inspired by the dedication of people actually on the land.
We are often implored to increase productivity by implementing “Time Management”. This may help some people, however it could well overlook the most important resource we all have and that is ourselves.
To be really productive and be there for the long term, SELF CARE is the best strategy!
By being in good form ourselves we are better able to help others. And as Heather Hutchings says “Manage your energy, not your time.”
As we approach the festive season we at New Zealand Grazing also reach the milestone of 35 years of reliable and sustainable service to thousands of Owners and Growers.
During this time we have also given many employees the opportunity to learn and develop their skills, motivation and resilience and have witnessed them moving through their various careers and ventures. Because our focus as an organization is to help people with their endeavors, we too have become more of a robust team that does not depend on just one or two individuals.
The way we help people to grow great and profitable heifers is firstly by being a great team to work with. We are proud to work with great farmers who recognise that by having great young cows entering their herds.
Wishing you and your team a happy festive and prosperous farming season
Ian Wickham and the Team at NZGC.