Farming in a World of ChanceWednesday, Oct 10, 2001
The news of the past few weeks has brought to mind a piece from the Book of Ecclesiastes that I think
encapsules the problematical environment of farming today:
I returned and saw under the sun,
that the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong,
neither yet bread to the wise,
nor yet riches to men of understanding,
nor yet favor to men of skill;
but time and chance happeneth to them all.
As farmers we learn, develop and act as if we are managers of our success and perhaps with good reason,
complain when the market or the climate or disease serves up a reversal.
Pastoral farming now seems to be on the edge of a time where chance will play a major part in the success
of this season. Chance, which is contrary to our belief that as managers that we can plan for
The chance of a further droughty summer for much of NZ because of the continuing La Nina conditions
probably causing large areas of NZ to receive lower rainfall.for the next six months
Market prices for products are starting to yield under pressure from international economic instability
and continuing consumer concerns about foot and mouth, BSE outbreaks and general food safety concerns
Overlay this with potential political instability as a result of the US terrorist attacks which will
be followed by some type of damaging conflict and the aspect of chance will become the dominant influencer
on product prices and even the ability to get products to our markets over the next few
It’s in years like this that the stress of profitably managing a farm mounts, not because of the lack
management skill, but because of the greater influence of chance.
After the past seasons relatively stable production and good marketing conditions, we may be expecting
more of the same but it is clear that some instability both on and off the farm is highly probable
- as a result of chance and not bad management.