Home' Straight Furrow 70th Anniversary : Dec 19 2011 Contents Straight Furrow • December 19, 2011
STRAIGHT FURROW CELEBRATING 70 YEARS -- LOOKING AHEAD
WITH the global population
now moving past the 7 billion
mark the critical issue facing
the world today is the availability of
quality, safe food.
While the sovereign debt crisis gets
the headlines, the cold, hard reality is
that urbanisation, land use change and
continuing pressure on water will mean
that food security will dominate global
thinking for the foreseeable future.
Alongside population growth, income
growth, particularly in emerging mar-
kets is driving increased meat con-
sumption. China and India -- with their
expanding middle class -- will grow
their disposable income from 23 per
cent of the global total in 2009 to 59
per cent by 2030.
So where does New Zealand fit into
all of this?
Fortunately New Zealand is one of
the few countries who can capitalise on
the issue of food security. The quality
of our farming systems, efficiency of
our processing sector, and the integrity
of New Zealand on the global stage
means we are well placed to benefit
from the opportunity today.
Importantly, we do not need to focus
on feeding the world. New Zealand can
only feed about 100 million people per
year, and we only need to focus on
those who can afford to pay the premi-
um pricing our quality product
In the rush to emerging economies
this is why the affluent markets of
Europe, Japan and the USA will remain
critically important for the future, in
spite of the economic challenges facing
those countries today.
Current returns are reflecting the
strong demand being fuelled by popula-
tion and income growth. However there
are far greater rewards available to
those who choose to improve their
own performance alongside the better
pricing being achieved today.
There is no doubt in my mind that
this is the opportunity for a generation
of New Zealand farmers. All the infor-
mation suggests that this new level of
pricing is here for the foreseeable
future. We owe it to future generations
to ensure we capture this opportunity
to set New Zealand on a path to pros-
perity in these economically troubling
WHEN I was young, we
watched The Flintstones and
The Jetsons on TV.
The Flintstones lit fires, broke up the
landscape and ate now extinct ani-
mals. The Jetsons communicated with
video devices, employed robots and
In both cases, it seemed that if there
was any practical work to be done, it
was usually the women doing it. Even
the mechanicals were fembots and it
was Wilma Flintstone who flipped the
A lot of the futuristic imaginings in
the Jetsons have come true.
Swallow mass produced foods full of
additives and chemically enhanced
Well, we are aren't we?
Up until recent times, a respected
rural saying was 'farmers feed the
But, in the future will farmers be per-
mitted to produce the goods? Or, shall
we leave it to the chemical companies
to come up with a range of cheap
meals in tablet form?
It would be easier -- the Jetsons cer-
tainly found it so. In their high-tech,
regulated bubble world, even the com-
panion animals were barking robots
and food was something they bought
at the plastic counter of sky-mart.
The future of farming will increasing-
ly become a balancing act between pro-
ducers, consumers and regulators.
Farmers work hard to produce high
quality, affordable food and fibre for
people. There are some who step over
the environmental best practice line in
the process -- the Fred Flintstones of
New Zealand farming.
But, it's vital we keep on the horizon
the vision of enough safe, fresh and
ethically produced food for all.
To quote the Maori proverb: He aha
te mea nui o tea o? He tangata! He tan-
gata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in
It is people! It is people! It is people!
THE increasing global demand for
protein creates significant oppor-
tunities for New Zealand farmers.
Capturing a proportion of these
opportunities will have the potential to
rapidly grow the wealth of farmers and
the wider New Zealand economy.
However, it is by no means certain
that the industry will succeed in capi-
talising on opportunities for many of
the reasons that growth has been con-
strained in the past, for instance, view-
ing our products as commodities
rather than value-adding solutions,
high indebtedness, misunderstanding
between urban and rural communities
and overbearing regulation.
The ability of farmers to take the
opportunities relies on New Zealand
developing a clear plan for the long-
term future of the industry for the next
20 or 50 years.
This will allow discussions over diffi-
cult and often emotional issues -
including genetic technologies, foreign
land ownership and production intensi-
fication - that will define future produc-
tivity and market positioning to occur
within a clear framework.
Capturing opportunities requires the
industry to focus relentlessly on the
factors it can control.
It also requires a total focus on devel-
oping intimate customer relationships
so we consistently deliver product
solutions, because it is easier to sell a
product for which we know there is a
Future success will also be built on
commercially robust collaborations
both within New Zealand and with
international partners so we compete
with each other only when it makes
commercial sense. The need to invest
more in innovation, with effective
extension and rapid adoption of tech-
nology on farm, will also contribute to
a successful future for the industry.
The future for farmers is bright. An
industry culture focused on innovation,
collaboration and, most importantly,
our customers will allow us to capture
the opportunities that have the great-
est potential to maximise the farmgate
AS I focus my vision forward into
the haziness of what farming
might be like 70 years from
now, I am tempted to fantasize about
amazing new technology and things
that are currently beyond the bounds
of our imagination.
I restrain myself for this reason; we
did this in the sixties and we got it
wrong. I am referring to flying cars of
course. In the sixties futuristic car-
toons had us all flying about in cars by
now and the fact that we are not, is not
only disappointing for me, I feel cheat-
ed that the future has let me down.
Of course the future, which is now
the past, has not cheated us, it has
been fantastic; instead of the flying car
we got the rotary cowshed, quad bike
and the PC.
So when thinking of the future I am
not letting my mind drift towards flying
tractors, which are probably quite
pointless anyway. I also reflect on just
how wrong they were about a paper-
less society, so for these reasons I
believe that the future will not be radi-
cally different to the present in terms
of what is important.
The planet will be just fine, food wars
and water wars will not eventuate, in
fact everything the doomsayers predict
will happen won't.
The grass will still be green, crops
will still grow, dairy cows will still walk
slowly, sheep will still be stupid and
our farm dogs will still be our constant
and loyal companions.
The farmers of the future will find
farming just as special a life as we do
today and our fathers did 70 years ago.
They will find joy as the spring of
each year abounds with new life, they
will be challenged by their winters and
they will be vexed by the same issues
of rising costs and variable returns as
Seventy years from now is the time
for the farmer who is not yet born.
Farming is and always has been about
the farmer, the future therefore will be
what they make it.
Beef + Lamb NZ
KPMG New Zealand
Suzuki DR200SE Trojan
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