Sunday, March 3, 2024

We’re counting on farmers

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All bets are off. But hold your tickets. There is good news among all the confusion and uncertainty created by coronavirus. We’re still exporting our farm produce and people overseas are still buying it.
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There are questions about how much they will be able or willing to pay for it if enforced inertia causes recession but New Zealand farmers are constantly told they are the most efficient in the world.

I guess we might be about to find out. We also need our follow-on industries to be equally as efficient and then it’s up to others to get our goods to market and distribute them. So now we will also find out just how good the likes of Fonterra, Zespri and Kotahi are.

If we are to believe what we are told then the worst is over in China and being so involved with that market might prove to be a strength as Europe and America get to grips with the virus.

The good news for the dairy sector is that the introduction of tough measures here comes at the time of least production. The sector has a few months up its sleeve to sort things out.

Farmers have time to plan for various contingencies and the Government must make sure it supports all farmers because they will be generating the nation’s income as the revenue from tourism and overseas students dwindles away.

I reckon farmers need to keep reminding politicians and anyone else they can corner that farming this year really will be the backbone of the economy. Don’t let them take you for granted.

Interest rates have been cut to the bone and the banks have promised they will be standing by their farmers when they need seasonal finance.

But farmers must still push their case when it comes to Government support. It’s a time for leaders to stand up and tell it like it is. Farmers don’t need namby-pamby politically correct figureheads who are afraid to speak out in case some one, anyone, gets offended. It’s time for blunt speaking because the nation is going to need every cent farmers can bring in and farmers need to know those who are paid to do so are sticking up for them.

We don’t want to waste time making sure all the language is politically correct when we could be out there saving the world.

It is time for all those groups farmers belong to to make sure they provide farmers with all the advice, tools and help they can lay their hands on. 

And it’s up to farmers to use any advice, tools and help available. It’s not time for farmers to hang back and wait for other farmers to show something works. There’s even a term for that – it’s called social proof. And we know Kiwi farmers are world-famous for picking stuff up once they see another farmer doing it. Well, now’s the time for every farmer to show leadership and get on with it.

Once farmers have considered the advice and possible outlooks they need to make their decisions and plan accordingly to cope with the challenges of the virus and the drought.

So, though there’s plenty to worry about, there is still that good outlook for our produsts.

And those who should know what they are talking about tell us the dairy sector if faring much better than others. Figures for price drops for some goods are astronomic but the fall in dairy prices is a mere blip in comparison.

People working in the dairy sector feared prices would fall much more than they have and though the economists are pulling back their farmgate mmilk prices for this season they are all still above $7 and Fonterra has reiterated it is leaving its forecast at $7 to $7.60 and is comfortable in doing so.

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