Bay of Plenty Times
Diversity key to Pa¯ mu’s $29m profit
FINANCE: Govt gets $5m dividend from the state-owned farmer with a strong focus on diversification and resilience
It’s about integrating forestry into our livestock operations rather than replacing livestock farms as such ... — Steve Carden, Pa¯mu
Astrong year for its dairy and forestry portfolios has seen the state-owned farmer, Pa¯mu, report a $29 million after-tax profit. The company which owns about 200 farms said total revenue was $250 million — with the milk cheque accounting for half of all farm operating revenue.
Chief executive Steve Carden said the company was still hit with Covid19 disruptions such as lower prices for some red-meat categories.
But as a diversified farming business, its capacity to offset any downsides in year on year returns with upsides across other aspects of its portfolio is growing.
“This result reflects the strategy we have been pursuing over the last seven years to lift farmgate returns, by diversifying and broadening our operations, where this makes sense, to ensure business resilience and as investments mature, increased earnings.”
“While pandemic-related disruption resulted in falling venison prices and increased farm input costs, these have been more than offset by higher milk revenue, the growth in carbon revenues and a reduction in operating expenses.”
He said Pa¯mu had identified around 12,000 hectares of land that would be converted into forestry in the next five to six years — adding to the 10,000ha of commercial forest and 10,000ha of native forest it already has.
Farming groups have raised concerns about the amount of fertile land being turned into forests but Carden said there was a place for it.
“It’s about integrating forestry into our livestock operations rather than replacing livestock farms as such, we see it playing an important role in providing supplemental income on that Class 6 and 7 land which is better suited to trees,” he said.
“In many cases it actually allows us to farm livestock on better quality land further down the hill so we double the income and improve productivity for our animals as well.”
Carden said revenue from the dairy business saw an increase in productivity and revenue over the previous year due to high milk prices and the company’s focus on efficiently converting pasture to milk.
“While overall livestock revenue slipped slightly to $112 million because of lower meat prices in global markets disrupted by Covid-19, lamb and beef prices gained momentum during the final quarter. These gains together with Pa¯mu processing contracts for specific quality requirements helped even out declines in venison returns.”
The positive result means Pa¯mu will pay a $5 million dividend to its shareholder — the New Zealand Government.