Dad’s wisdom a boost to farmer
When news Fonterra had dropped its payout to $4.70/kg milk solids reached Phillip White, he sought out his son Thomas who is 50 per cent sharemilking the family farm near Putaruru.
‘‘Things are never as good as they seem and things are never as bad as they seem,’’ he told him.
It was, Thomas recalled, one of the best pieces of advice he ever received.
The words have stuck with him over the ensuing months as he farms through the low payout this season and have kept him positive and focused on the task at hand.
‘‘Things are never as bad as they seem,’’ he repeats.
It keeps his focus on what is happening inside the farm gate.
The payout and weather are factors beyond his control.
‘‘You can’t worry about the weather, but you can make the most of the grass that’s on the ground.
‘‘You can’t worry about the payout and there’s no point beating up Fonterra and the other milk companies about it.’’
Thomas is in his third year sharemilking the 100 hectare farm with wife Richelle.
He said the experience of having to farm the property through two consecutive droughts hardened him mentally.
‘‘After the first year on this farm, we knew we could handle what we could handle, because that was only a $5.80 payout.’’
This season the 335 cows are on target to produce 130,000kg MS and are 17 per cent ahead of production compared with the previous season. He credits the installation of an in-shed feeder that feeds a PKE blend with helping boost production.
Many people thought dairy farmers had money to burn when the payout reached $8.40 last year and he avoided the temptation to buy up big.
Many of their costs for this season, such as feed, were already locked in and he is budgeting on a $4.70 payout for the rest of the season, having started the season at $6. This is the long-term average payout.
He has held his labour costs for this season, and employs one staff member, Storm Burrows.
Having a plan and seeing it through was equally important. There was no point in having a detailed budget if it was not constantly reviewed and revised.
He has also put his equity growth plans on hold.
‘‘But that doesn’t really worry us. Both Richelle and myself are in it for the long term long term, we are not going to sell our herd any time soon and we are probably going to look to grow it.
‘‘You have to love what you do to get out at 4am every day and in some years, there is not going to be a profit at the end of the season.’’
But it was still a great industry to be involved in. There were few jobs that allowed him to spend lunch at his house playing with his infant son, Eliot.