Milk payouts look dismal this season and early action is the best course. But keep the long term in mind and don’t let it all fall on your sharefarmer.
Leedom Gibbs, Federated Farmers Taranaki vice-president and Farm Owner chair, says that was the key takeaway from an excellent Rural Professionals webinar featuring Brendan Attrill, a veteran Feds leader in Taranaki and now the province’s DairyNZ lead.
“With the labour market very tight, looking after good people as much as you can is very important,” Leedom said.
Here’s her summary of key points Brendan made to farm owners in the webinar:
Focus on stability for your people on farm – this will build better, long lasting relationships with your sharefarmers.
Open the books as much as you feel comfortable with to be transparent with the position you are in, especially where you are asking your sharefarmers to make cuts to production (and their income) to manage on farm spend.
When looking for savings, cut your own spending first, then R&M and then finally if you need to, have the conversation with the sharefarmer on where spend for production may need to be cut. A sharefarmer will not stick around if they have had their income cut drastically but don’t see you making any changes to your lifestyle.
If you need to reduce spending that will impact production, this needs to be a conversation with the sharefarmer, not a surprise. They need to be able to adjust their business to accommodate this which may include laying off staff, taking a job off farm, and/or seeking an extension to their overdraft (which may not be granted by their bank). It is important you accommodate their changes if you expect them to accommodate your changes.
Seek advice if you intend making any changes that may impact your sharefarming agreement (or if you aren’t sure) – Federated Farmers members can use the 0800 Farming line to speak to the legal team and policy advisor.
Federated Farmers, New Zealand’s leading independent rural advocacy organisation, has established a news and insights partnership with AgriHQ, the country’s leading rural publisher, to give the farmers of New Zealand a more informed, united and stronger voice. Feds news and commentary appears each week in its own section of the Farmers Weekly print edition and online.