In a recent blog, I discussed the dangers believing in the “one big thing,” as the answer to NZ sheep and beef farmer’s lack of business results. Our seemingly innate desire for “something for nothing” sees most of us line up again for the next answer when we hear the words “here comes the next game changer.” History of course proves this method does not deliver as promised most of the time, so you’d think some distrust would have developed by now from farmers towards those who espouse this way of thinking. But no! Many just grin, bear it and wait for the next instruction, again. What I find puzzling is that farmers are paying for this to continue as is!
Yes, farmers are compulsorily levied every time an animal is killed at meat processing plants, for the purposes of “industry good” activities. It may not seem much per animal but add it up over your financial year and you may be surprised at the contribution each farmer makes. Various organisations are charged with using and/or allocating this money to worthy projects and uses for the good of the industry. That’s how the system has been functioning up until now. However, while there are some good value projects being worked on and various seminars delivering some useful techniques and education, farmers need to up their game in understanding the true value they are receiving for their investment.
For example, a 1 day annual industry innovation event recently had many farmers attending but it was only a miniscule percentage of total levy payers. Those who really needed to be there, weren’t. These farmers made their own choice not to attend or course, but this does bring up an issue around lack of engagement with those funding the event (farmers). Are they not coming because of apathy? Are they staying away because they feel there is no value in going and with a compulsory levy, what can you do anyway? Perhaps finding out why this is and making changes to engage in a valuable way might be a worthy project?
There was an excellent presentation around farmers defining and telling their story, and innovation around new wool uses, plus a few other good topics. Some presentations were the same old same old (no innovation). In summary at the end there appeared to be little direction for farmers apart from “tell your story” to show that farming is a crucial activity and so that they engage city folk with the great things in farming.
Some will argue that farmers get to vote on continuing the levy or not every few years and so have the opportunity to vote it out then. But this is not the point. It’s not about having the levy or not having the levy. It’s fine to invest money for the good of the industry, just make sure there is plenty of value being returned for the investment made. If there isn’t enough value, why does this continue? Shouldn’t these organisations spending farmers money change what they are doing to deliver greater value or at least formulate some positive direction for farmers to passionately engage with? They might just get plenty of levy payers along to events engaging with the uses of their funds, and they may just have more of a say in how that is done going forward.
So, as to why many farmers just grin, bear it and wait for the next instruction, and then pay for this to continue as is - who knows what all of the reasons are. But one thing is for certain: people and money flow to value, by choice! If the money is flowing not through choice, and people are not flowing, there is likely a disconnection and a value issue at play. Best those in charge of spending farmers money figure this out and make some changes. If this isn’t done or won’t be done, farmers need to ask themselves why they continue to compulsorily pay for little value. Any investment resource would advocate the same.
Perhaps the farmers are hanging on in hope that something valuable will come out of that investment for them eventually. “It’s only a small amount per animal after all.” But do we really want “clinging to hope” and lack of value to be normalised in our industry? Either way, positive change is needed from us all. What are you doing to cause positive change in your business and industry?
If you are curious about how the GrowFARM® System can help sheep and beef farmers generate the profits they really want, contact me here.
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