LIC | Set yourself up well for the season ahead

Set yourself up well for the season ahead

James Thomas, FarmWise Consultant

It is important for farms and stock to be set up for the new season especially for those of you moving properties. Shifting comes with enough stress without having to negotiate possible compensation if terms and conditions have not been met.

Remember you have 10 days to appeal the conditions on the farm if you think contractual obligations have not been met. This is very important to remember as there will be no opportunity for compensation outside this timeframe.

Generally I have found there is no substitution for communication and the people that have been in regular contact with each other have the least issues on change over day. Don’t assume everything has been taken care of. Ask. Communication needs to extend to making sure you are aware of where the entire infrastructure is located. This would include water pipes and taps and electric fence isolation areas. Farm maps are a wonderful help with identifying all these areas.

For new staff or sharemilkers coming on to farm make sure that the new health and safety requirements are discussed, understood and implemented. This is especially important in terms of the ‘no go’ areas of the farm. Don’t assume that all members of staff have the same experience and ability operating machinery or driving farm bikes especially on hilly terrain.

In the past owners have been able to ‘turn a blind eye’ to self-employed sharemilkers not wearing helmets on quad bikes. This is no longer acceptable under the new legislation as all people associated with the farm business are at risk of prosecution if the right practice has not been followed. Most of this is good common sense and most farms have been doing this for years, but the key difference is that safety warnings and policies must now be written down and recorded.

Visitors also need to be briefed on the hazards, and sign in and out. While this is a nuisance in many people’s eyes it will soon become common place and accepted.

I recently attended one day of the Farmer’s Forum at Mystery Creek, which was a good opportunity to catch up with fellow farmers and other rural professionals. One presentation was around the current downturn and the length it has gone on for (21 months), which is longer than most other recent examples including the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09.

It is likely that the recovery form this will be slow and steady with most industry commentators picking another tough year in terms of payout. It is maybe then a good opportunity while there is more time on the farm to quietly sit down and assess whether the current farm system is robust enough for one more year of low prices. This is not trying to be negative, just realistic.

One theme that came out strongly was that just relying on the milk price recovering is not an acceptable business model. One positive that I see on many farms is that there is more supplement on hand due to the kinder summer, requiring less to be fed out. This will enable (potentially) quite a saving to be made in this area in the new season. It is important therefore to take advantage of this by not milking on for too long now at the expense of cow condition or pasture cover.

Best practice is hitting all your farm targets by early June and this year is no exception to that.


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