Farm­ing no place for no-hoper

Chal­leng­ing, re­ward­ing ca­reer for hard worker


Ifind it dis­ap­point­ing that Work and In­come New Zealand per­sists in us­ing the agri­cul­ture and hor­ti­cul­ture sec­tors as a dump­ing ground for un­skilled labour.

It is tempt­ing to try to match un­em­ployed peo­ple with what are per­ceived as low-skill po­si­tions, but in re­al­ity all farm­ing re­quires a will­ing­ness to work in all weather, for long hours.

Per­haps we need to ad­ver­tise it as be­ing like a ca­reer in the mil­i­tary, with­out the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing sent to a war zone. Farm­ing re­quires peo­ple to be able to take on new ideas quickly and adapt to what­ever sit­u­a­tion is be­ing thrown at them.

It is not a job for those who party all night and sleep all day, or who want to work only when they feel like it.

When a herd of 250 cows de­pends on you to get them milked, fed and wa­tered and there are con­tracts to hon­our about get­ting milk to the dairy com­pany, you can­not just hit ‘‘snooze’’ and roll over. Farm­ing of any sort is a chal­leng­ing but re­ward­ing ca­reer.

The Fed­er­ated Farm­ers and Rabobank Farm Em­ployee Re­mu­ner­a­tion Re­port 2013 shows farm work­ers’ aver­age salary is above the national aver­age and there are ex­cit­ing ca­reer prospects for those who are com­mit­ted.

How­ever, from what I have seen and heard for some time, Winz does not seem to take any of this into ac­count when rec­om­mend­ing peo­ple for jobs. Those with a bit of drive are sent off else­where while case man­agers send farm­ers longterm no-hop­ers.

A bit of news last week showed that no mat­ter how suc­cess­ful you have been in busi­ness, farm­ing may still not be the right ca­reer choice.

For­mer Live­stock Im­prove­ment Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Dewd­ney seems to have changed his mind about be­com­ing a hand­son dairy farmer, tak­ing on the chief ex­ec­u­tive role at PGG Wright­son in­stead.

Per­haps the drought soured Dewd­ney’s dairy dream which he had an­nounced in De­cem­ber.

He will be very fa­mil­iar with his new busi­ness. Dewd­ney was at LIC when the co-op­er­a­tive pro­vided a $10 mil­lion loan ex­ten­sion to Agria which helped the Chi­nese seed gi­ant buy a 50.1 per cent stake in Wright­sons in 2011.

Last week, of course, was Waikato’s an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of ev­ery­thing in agri­cul­ture with the New Zealand National Agri­cul­tural Fiel­d­ays at Mys­tery Creek.

Once again it was a hugely suc­cess­ful event – pos­si­bly the best ever – and it was great so many peo­ple vis­ited us at the stall which FMG kindly shared with Fed­er­ated Farm­ers.

It was a great op­por­tu­nity to chat with farm­ers and we are likely to be back next year. It was also good to see the Fed­er­ated Farm­ers National Board mem­bers come to Waikato for their midyear meet­ing last week.

t I fear, how­ever, this year’s in­crease in ticket prices to $25 for an adult gate pass and $15 for chil­dren might make it much less fam­ily-friendly in the fu­ture.

It would be a shame if Fiel­d­ays was priced be­yond the reach of young fam­i­lies. They are the ones tak­ing our in­dus­try for­ward, and for 44 years Fiel­d­ays has been a fam­ily af­fair. Even Waikato-born celebrity chef Josh Em­met came to Fiel­d­ays as a kid. I know my chil­dren have ex­pe­ri­enced it and I hope, one day, their chil­dren will too.

The Meat In­dus­try Ex­cel­lence Group has pub­lished its mis­sion state­ment and ob­jec­tives this week af­ter the farmer meet­ings held around the coun­try.

It is call­ing for re­form of the in­dus­try through a united pro­cess­ing and mar­ket­ing struc­ture con­trolled by sup­pli­ers.

The aim is to be­come the world’s pre­mium sup­plier of red meat. This will take quite a bit of work and a new level of co­op­er­a­tion for the in­dus­try.

Road trans­port op­er­a­tors and the Govern­ment are work­ing to min­imise the risk for truck driv­ers, so do not be sur­prised if truck­ies stop pick­ing up stock if your yards and load­ing banks are not up to scratch, mak­ing their work­place con­di­tions un­sat­is­fac­tory.

Be­fore you get of­fended, re­mem­ber if there is an ac­ci­dent, you might be at the back end of the law. Once again, it is the few at the bot­tom of the in­dus­try who are giv­ing a bad rep­u­ta­tion to the rest of us farm­ers.

Once again Fed­er­ated Farm­ers is hold­ing suc­ces­sion plan­ning sem­i­nars, to­day in the Cam­bridge Cos­mopoli­tan Club at Leamington from 4pm till 6pm.

This will be a good op­por­tu­nity to help you de­velop thoughts, ideas and a plan for the fu­ture.

James Houghton is Fed­er­ated Farm­ers Waikato provin­cial pres­i­dent.

ADAPT­ABIL­ITY: James Houghton says farm­ers must be able to take on new ideas quickly and adapt to what­ever is be­ing thrown at them.

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