Wednesday, April 24, 2024

How to navigate the changing farming environment

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Connect, listen and lead together will be the way forward for the agricultural sector in the changing farming environment. SIDE MC and NZX head of insights Julia Jones urged the 460 farmers attending the two-day event in Ashburton to lean into the learning.
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“The biggest risk in the agricultural sector is us, we are the biggest risk of not being able to move forward,” Jones said.

“We need to connect, discover and grow – and don’t give change the chance to get its hands around your throat.”

The power of the future will be about perverse thinking.

“Listen, absorb, ask and understand – all of you are investing in your future and the future of your sector by being here,” she said.

SIDE chair Andrew Slater says dairy cannot ignore the need for businesses to evolve and meet upcoming challenges.

“The agricultural sector is constantly facing multifaceted challenges and change,” Slater said.

“We have all survived these challenges to date, relying on resilience, foresight and getting on with it.

“With continued environmental challenges, changes in the finance sector and increasing demands from the end users of our products; our farming systems need to evolve to not only survive, but to prosper and grow sustainably while continuing to be the backbone of the economy.”

These challenges include the recent Canterbury flooding that affected many farms throughout the region. 

Acknowledging the impact on local farmers, SIDE’s organising committee donated $1000 from the event to the Rural Support Trust providing support for farmers affected by the recent flooding.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel also acknowledged the unprecedented challenges the flooding has created for many Canterbury farmers.

In his address, Van der Poel highlighted the positives in the sector.

“Global demand for dairy is on the rise, prices are strong, and we are on the brink of landing a free trade agreement with the UK,” Van der Poel said.

“Our public perception of dairy has also improved due to covid, as the rest of New Zealand remembered what a huge economic contribution our dairy farmers make.”

A recent survey showed 73% of the NZ public are positive towards the dairy sector.

“It is a great time to be a Kiwi dairy farmer, even if it may not always feel like it with all the regulation that has been coming our way,” he said.

NZ dairy farmers are the most sustainable dairy farmers in the world, we have evidence to prove it.

“We are making great progress in reducing our footprint,” he said.

“We should be proud of this and the work we are doing.”

The future is about evolving.

“And that is not something we should be scared of, it’s just the next stage of our industry’s evolution,” he said.

The event opened with keynote speaker, psychology therapist Dr Ceri Evans who discussed mental performance under pressure and how to respond better to challenges.

Evans’ mind model is used by people serious about performing under pressure, from doctors to lawyers, executive teams to professionals, to amateurs.

He has provided specialist consultancy to the All Blacks since 2010.

Performing under pressure is about the situation we find ourselves in and the choices around that situation.

Pressure and high-performance are intimately connected.

“We act different and behave different, because of the context we are in,” Evans said.

“People often respond with an instinctive response under pressure.

“In these states people can overreact and have difficulty thinking or acting – you need to know your state to control how you respond.

“People can also choose to respond in a more positive way, involving thinking, curiosity, exploring and connecting. 

Evans says if you want to reach your potential, you need to explore your limits.

“Mindset and attitude are the big things that you can change,” he said.

“If you want to get physically stronger you go to the gym – that’s easy.

“If you want to get mentally stronger, where’s the mental gym? That’s a problem.”

Mental strength is a sliding scale, but finding mental superpower can be as simple as three steps.

Step back to gain emotional control, step up to see better options and step in to take the initiative.

When problem-solving it’s important not to get too complex.

“It’s a profound choice, complete or complain – go for completion culture,” he said.

“Chunk it down, get it done, feel good – it’s a simple thing.

“I promise you your life will change.”

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