What’s more important to a farmer - the fear or the goal?

Back to Overview

Posted by Brendon Walsh on 21 August 2017

Fear 2

In my last blog, I discussed how any farmer can achieve what is most important to them, if they want it badly enough. However, there is a general tendency in the NZ sheep and beef farming industry to take time to change. Some farmers move quickly, but many others don’t. Current and future disruption globally to traditional models is also well known and slowness to change (or at least assess change) puts that farmer firmly on the back foot in terms of creating advantages for themselves. No farmer wants to put themselves at a disadvantage or to take too long, so why the slowness to change?

Answers could include comfort levels, lack of knowledge or not growing up with the same pressures as exist in agribusiness today. However, the question is not “why do they tend to want to stick with how things are currently?” but rather “why the slowness to change?” It’s a different question with different answers, if you think about it.

I don’t claim to be a psychologist but from my experience it often comes down to what each farmer holds as more important i.e. when a change is required, what is most important to that individual always dictates decisions.

For example, farmers know they have to feed their ewes well from lambing to weaning, but often don’t because they don’t have the pasture covers to do it. That usually stems from a fear of losing control of grass in the spring and therefore they run a higher stocking rate through winter to eat that spring growth. Beliefs that more animals mean more profit, and that “you are better to finish your lambs than to (shock horror) sell them store”, only exacerbate this situation. Consequently, lambs don’t grow as well as they could with weaning weights, stock condition and animal health often behind where they could be. Profit is reduced and other effects include later selling of lambs and the perception of fewer options around climate. In this example, the fear of losing control of pasture is way more important than generating profit, hence thinking supports that and actions are taken accordingly.

If the focus is on profit, and the fear could be let go of, a whole world of opportunity reveals itself. These opportunities allow profit to happen year after year, if you understand the system. Sustainability is “the ability to sustain” after all. Profit and sustainability together? Absolutely!

By the way, there are plenty of options available to keep pasture quality when you are going for profit - in fact they go hand in hand. You just have to understand what they are and why you would do any of them. The technology and systems exist to help farmers deliver profit consistently (and they have existed for years) and they are proven, but that’s another story. If you want to view one example, see what this farmer has to say.

Recently I caught up with a farming family who had some challenges in terms of changing their business structure and shareholding to allow them to move forward and achieve their family’s goals. They weren’t GrowFARM® clients but they needed help. Prior to that point, something was stopping them moving towards achieving the goal. But, after a short session of guidance and the drawing out of the real goal, they got excited, listed the definite actions to achieve it, time-lined those actions and got on with it. They have since told me that everything is in place now and it has been legally agreed to settle on a certain date in the very near future - awesome!

They are a great example of most kiwi farming families - they knew what they wanted and they wanted it badly. They just needed clarification, direction and help. They tapped into their true important stuff, got fired up about it and they went and got it done! As I said, we all have the ability to do this - it just comes down to what is more important - the fear or the goal.

For these people, they learned to place the goal firmly at the top of the list, ahead of the fear. Will you do the same?

If you are curious about how the GrowFARM® System can help sheep and beef farmers generate the profits they really want, contact me here.

Tags: , , ,

Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.