Several of our accepted on-farm practices are keeping many sheep and beef farmers in a state of low profit and lack of belief that they can generate any more profit than they are doing now. In fact these practices tend to be recommended to farmers with the belief that they are sound. However, there tends to be very little connection with long term use of these practices and the historically poor business results from farming that are keeping our farm businesses just off survival. Here are some examples:
It is incredible to think that many of our sheep and beef farm business owners own multi-million dollar businesses yet treat them like a self-employed or employed situation. Why do I say that? Two reasons – firstly, many scrape just enough to live on and over time, farm business results have shown this to be the case. Unfortunately this can become a habit of thought. “At least I am working for myself” is often the justification. Secondly, the words used are an indication of the thinking behind them. See above but I also hear things like “(Sigh) oh well, I’m in it for the lifestyle”, “This is my policy”, “You've got to work hard to make it in this game” and “How can I make more income?” This type of thinking is definitely not Business Owner Thinking. Great business owners use words like “This is where we are heading so what can we learn to make it happen?”, “We must leverage ourselves well to ensure we get to where we want to go,” and “how can we generate and receive better profits for our efforts to help us get to where we want to go?”
Recently I returned from visiting a bunch of new GrowFARM clients in a particular area of NZ. They blew me away with the sheer joy they oozed after finally discovering how to make profit from their sheep and beef farms. This was after years of being told by the industry to increase production/gross farm income/lambing percentages and eat all the dry matter they grow - you name it! They are only a few weeks into their time with us and are learning the background and principles behind how to generate sheep and beef farm profit, yet were like first year students on a new adventure! New! I thought about that – why would they not know about how to create a successful sheep and beef farm business after many years of farming?
What an outstanding tournament! The ABs are world rugby champions again and all is good in NZ. The sun is rising each day to smiles across the nation and we all feel like the natural order will thankfully continue. I have loved watching the journey of the team that began after the 2007 RWC Quarterfinal loss to France in Cardiff. There has been a quiet transformation from then until now and winning in 2015 compared to 2011 is even sweeter again. I reflected on this while hearing Steve Hansen’s comments at the after-final press conference - “we are just ordinary people who can play rugby reasonably well” in his normal kiwi understated way!
The way we usually view our sheep and beef farms in New Zealand has unfortunately moved many farmers perspectives down a track so unhelpful that they are in danger of a life of hard labour and a challenging succession situation. This has become so dire that without knowing it many farmers are working hard for the interests of other organisations and are using their own energy, sweat and resources to do it. What really worries me is that to most it doesn't seem that bad and that reflects how insidious the problem really is.
It's not about funding, its about great thinking and action!
Financial security starts with a profitable business - build financial reserves, volatility safeguard, not just the production treadmill.
Make the environment conducive to the thing, don't nail the bad symptoms
While speaking recently with sheep and beef farmers in Southland, it was confirmed to me just how important personal confidence really is in sheep and beef farming. As we discussed farming and what opportunities people saw for themselves and their businesses, two distinct lines of thought emerged out of two completely different thinking environments.
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