Farming Under the SpotlightMonday, Jun 18, 2001
Most issues of the day seem minor as we wait for the vote tomorrow on GlobalCo’s future..
Farmers outside the dairy industry may rightly feel a little bemused at the episode, but from the point
of view of all farmers if the general public perceives that the dairy industry has stumbled in
its decision, consequences will regrettably spill over into other areas of farmer commerce.
A telling piece of commentary by Owen McShane in the NBR put the question - Why we should all have a
vote on folly of GlobalCo – a question to which his answer pointed to the NZ public wanting
to go back to the equivalent of milk at 4p a pint. But even worse his love of competition on the
local market blinded him to the fact that lower market prices inevitably leads to a lower payouts
to producers in the dairy industry.
It has always been a struggle for farmers to gain clout in a market-orientated society. The fundamental
issue of many farmers competing to sell to a few processors seems to escape the critic’s
of producer managed marketing structures.
How does this affect other pastoral producers? By the very fact of our apparent incompetence to manage
our own affairs wherever they come in conflict with the expectations of the rest of the community.
Because of our fragmentation we turn into business wimps – price takers
The wool industry is not under the same spotlight as it tries to sort out its future but it is struggling
to restructure for exactly the same reasons as dairy.
Wool has been allowed, due to fragmentation and incompetence, to degenerate in the course of a generation
into a minor industry of little consequence. Wool? Who cares? Just producers who want a better
position in the market - that’s who!
If the dairy industry can demonstrate competence in the global market, it has the potential to have
a positive affect for other primary industries by showing the country that cooperation in the market
is a sensible process and a way for farmers to ensure they maintain their rightful position in