A recent study contracted by DairyNZ concludes sharemilking is still a viable option in New Zealand for career progression, as a means of building wealth and for enjoying a farming lifestyle.
The changes across our industry as a result of the 2015-16 milk price have left many farmers feeling as if they are in a holding pattern as equity and cashflow have fallen in line with global milk prices. Despite these challenges, over the past 18 months we’ve seen evidence of the capability of sharemilkers and farm owners to work smarter and harder together as business partners.
Sharemilkers are an innovative and dynamic group who are finding ways to progress their careers, be that farm ownership, running multiple sharemilking operations or growing investment within the industry. We see that when sharemilkers and farm owners work closely together, the successful operation of the farm profits both parties.
The Pathways to Progression report released in June provides a ‘state of the nation’ picture of sharemilking at a time when farmers are under increasing pressure to manage finances and when agreements are being tested in terms of business partnerships. It reinforces what we already know about sharemilkers and the farm owners they work with – farmers work together to find creative and inventive ways to build wealth and reach their goals.
Choices made on best path to take
This season, a number of variable order sharemilkers have moved into contract milking positions to provide stability of income for the current season.
Farm owners have been instrumental in stepping forward to ensure the progression of young people in the industry and protect the interests of the sharemilkers they work with. Other variable order sharemilkers assessed the risks and potential rewards and have continued on with their variable contracts.
The Pathways to Progression report has a decision tree which outlines some of those risks. It is useful to seek external advice too.
If you are currently sharemilking, take heart – our industry has many options for connecting with other farmers and rural professionals who are willing to share their knowledge and experience.
Share with those around you what you want to achieve in the future and position yourself to strike when the opportunity arises. Others have succeeded and opportunities are out there.
So how do you reach your goals in today's climate?
Consider the following:
- Read the Pathways to Progression report to learn what others are doing: dairynz.co.nz/pathways
- Write down clear goals: dairynz.co.nz/markandmeasure
- Build relationships with trusted advisers – other farmers, your banker, your accountant
- Get a Dairy Connect buddy to help develop skills or knowledge: dairynz.co.nz/dairy-connect
- Join a Progression Group to learn people and business skills: dairynz.co.nz/progression
- Become a Federated Farmers member for advice and camaraderie: fedfarm.org.nz
- View the sharemilking support and events webpages: dairynz.co.nz/sharemilker
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy July 2016