What’s happening out there? Industry observations from Figured’s Head of Rural

By Sophie Stanley

It was great to get out and about with some of the locals down at the mighty Southern Fieldays in Waimumu a few weeks ago, not only to check out the latest in industry innovation but also to get a gauge on the general mood among the industry.

Despite the recent reality of falling milk prices, and a tough season all round, most people we encountered seem pretty upbeat – and how could you not when the Crusaders and Highlanders were playing next door to the event venue on a field that was meticulously mowed for the occasion (I even heard that because the accommodation was booked out from Invercargill to Dunedin, the Highlanders ended up staying in tents!). Now that’s true rural ingenuity right there, and a great way to bring the rural community together.

We have all seen the news and heard the stories about the dairy price. Fonterra recently dropped the forecast farmgate price to $4.15/kgMS with further indications of recent GDT Auctions that the price may tumble slightly lower.

We could just focus on this and put our head in the sand. However, we need to remind ourselves that we live in a commodity market that is driven globally. What comes up, must come down, and vice versa. Therefore, in the interim, what we need to focus on is what is in our circle of influence, not our circle of concern.

‘Control the controllables’ is one way of looking at it and this includes managing our costs well, assessing all our options, asking our farming team for advice and support and hunkering down as best we can. If we can battle this storm, we can get through anything.

But we aren’t only a country of dairy! In the beef sector, things are looking a tad rosier. With the exchange rate dropping from some highs over the last few years, and rebuilds in the US and Australian beef herds following successive droughts, the beef prices are looking above previous years averages despite a slight drop in previous months*. Wool and horticulture sectors are also experiencing uplift, notably the pipfruit sector with apple exports this year expecting to have 105% growth in exports from 2012**.

We may talk about regulation and compliance a lot in the accounting sector, but the farming sector is also facing similar requirements with the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which comes into force in April this year. While we would all agree that having a safer environment on farm is only a good thing, it does require business owners to take a step back and do a bit of work on meeting required standards. Luckily for us there is a lot of great tech that can help make the process easier. OnFarm Safety NZ is one such organisation who can provide everything you need to get yourself in the clear.

And, while times do continue to be tight, it was still great to see many innovative companies in the rural sector offering great services and products to ensure the ag industry can work as efficiently as possible. We’re looking forward to seeing more of our customers and partners at the Central Districts Fielday event, and of course at Mystery Creek in June.

*http://www.odt.co.nz/news/farming/373116/bank-bright-side-farmers-sombre

**http://hawk.net.nz/pipfruit-new-zealand-forecasts-growth-105-per-cent-apple-exports/