Farmers continue to juggle new environmental regulations, extreme weather events, increased compliance requirements, changing consumer preferences, and advances in agri technology. Dave Handley, General Manager of Agribusiness, takes a look at what is currently unfolding in the agribusiness sector.
The agribusiness sector is facing the winds of change on a stronger and more frequent basis. Those who adapt quickly will thrive, as they assess and manage the opportunities (future proofing their farm for years to come) while carefully managing the challenges (staff shortages, increasing costs).
One of the biggest challenges is the speed and significance of change. How farmers manage and respond to this from both an action and mindset perspective will be key.
At some point, every business owner faces into tough times, and the difficult decisions that come with it. Being able to effectively manage challenges (make clear decisions, lead staff and deal with your own worries) is what differentiates strong leaders from the rest.
The agri sector has some great leaders, and they continue to face into change on behalf of the wider sector. Everyone needs to play their part though, whether actively or through support of those representing the sector.
Through all of this, we know that one of the real keys to success is farmers continuing to have the appropriate mindset to deal with change.
Resilience is our ability to rebound positively from setbacks, to be flexible, have a strong sense of self-belief, persevere through challenges, and respond to situations effectively with focus and presence of mind.
Many of the farmers I’ve spoken to (including my Dad), openly share what has worked for them ‘when the going gets tough’:
- Having a chat to family, friends, and others.
- Speaking to business owners who may be having similar challenges.
- Focusing on the small wins you are having.
- Setting short-term achievable goals.
- Ensuring that you celebrate each success.
Resilience also means looking after yourself. Having some time off farm and getting away for a night or holiday to recharge the batteries and spend time with family.
Who can help?
It’s not often you hear of those who run a farming business, or any other business, who don’t ask others for help or advice at some point. This has never been more evident than what businesses have experienced in the last few years in dealing with COVID-19.
Continuing to be resilient also means you know who can help when you need it:
- A good first port of call is the Rural Support Trust who have local, rural people who know first-hand how severe drought or flooding, problems with staff, or financial pressures can be.
- Have a chat to one of your business advisers who you trust, whether it be your accountant, lawyer, bank manager, or farm consultant.
- Tap into mentoring from Business Mentors New Zealand.
- Set up an advisory board or Board of Directors
If you know of friends or family of other farmers who may be having a tough time, reach out to them to ask if they’re ok and what you can do to help.
Have a plan
There is an old saying that is still so relevant to us all, ‘By failing to plan, you are planning to fail’.
If you have a plan, then it’s a heck of a lot easier to deal with change and challenges. Many famers have encountered a drought, severe flooding, or maybe the loss of key people at some point. I bet that most of them learnt a lot going through that, and have a clear plan should they face into that situation again.
For farmers, having a plan not only means a farm plan but also a financial plan and environmental plan. At BNZ we want to ensure that we do our part in working with and helping our farmers. We aim to continue to think of practical ways that we can help:
- Workshops such as our partnership with Dairy NZ on the dollars and sense of going green.
- Fact sheets on greenhouse gas reduction targets, how the Emissions Trading Scheme works, and Forestry for Carbon sequestration. We’re stoked to have seen many of our customers leading the way with these topics.
- Free business health checks. They’re a great opportunity to have a chat to an Agribusiness partner.
Farmers have faced and will continue to face both challenges and opportunities. Farmers held strong during COVID-19 and showed the rest of NZ why they, and their farming businesses, continue to be so critical to NZ’s economic wellbeing.
Being resilient and facing into constant change is what farmers do best, and that’s exactly why I believe they have resilience in spades.
Any views expressed in this article are the personal views of Dave Handley and do not necessarily represent the views of BNZ, or its related entities. This article is solely for information purposes and is not intended to be financial advice. If you need help, please contact BNZ or your financial adviser. Neither BNZ nor any person involved in this article accepts any liability for any direct or indirect loss or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance on, all or any part of the content.
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