Angie Fisher, who is leading the project for DairyNZ, says industry groups, including dairy companies, are working together to ensure variable order sharemilkers are supported through a difficult season with a low milk price.
A variable order sharemilker – there are about 1800 in New Zealand – provides labour, covers some costs and receives an agreed percentage of the income. They don’t own the cows.
“Variable order sharemilkers are important to our industry. They form a substantial group who often aspire to farm ownership. They are facing a particularly difficult time as incomes fall and farm expenses are relatively fixed,” says Angie.
“They are likely to have limited financial options through the banks because they own fewer assets. If they are unable to meet their commitments and struggle financially, during one or two seasons of low milk prices, it is likely we will lose a number of them and their skills from the dairy industry.
As part of its Tactics campaign, DairyNZ has created a web page to link sharemilkers, particularly variable order, with relevant information and resources. Part of that support is focussed on helping farm owners and sharemilkers communicate effectively and understand options.
“While it is tough right now sharemilkers are still looking to the future, and just need some additional support,” says Angie.
“There are always opportunities in the dairy industry to rebuild and grow – cow prices are lower and some sharemilkers will be buying cows. Other variable order sharemilkers are proving they have the skills to get through a challenging season or are taking time to learn and develop business skills to better position themselves for the future.”
Some of the support available includes:
- Accountants nationwide are offering an hour of time free of charge to provide budgeting and planning assistance for variable order sharemilkers.
- Federated Farmers have facilitators available who can assist conversations between variable order sharemilkers and farm owners, whether they are Federated Farmer members or not.
- DairyNZ’s Dairy Connect service has been ramped up and is now available nationwide. This service connects farmers seeking advice with farmer mentors who have knowledge and experience across a range of specialist topics.
For more information visit www.dairynz.co.nz/vosm.
Number/distribution of variable order sharemilkers
Source: DairyNZ CRM Variable Order Sharemilkers at end of 2014-15 season
Total = 1783 at end of 2014/15 season. New 2015/16 numbers available in late October
Hayley Gavan, DairyNZ communications and marketing advisor
021 703 068