The Gamble in FarmingWednesday, Apr 18, 2001
A city friend spent his Easter cycling around the orchards and farms of Hawkes Bay enjoying the pleasant
autumn days as close to being rural, as he would wish. In an unguarded moment he acknowledged
that farming is a lottery. More specifically orcharding as it now seems to be practiced by those
that are surviving in that struggling industry.
A five year lead time from planting apples before the grower knows if the variety planted will have
a demand in the market seemed to him to be a long gamble. But even more notable to him were the systems
and techniques used by the orchardists to get the maximum profitable production from their efforts.
Totally different from his recollection of his youth picking fruit from large branching trees.
Urban folk seem to have lost contact with the systems used by farmers today to get more production from
fewer inputs to remain a viable in business and how long it takes to produce meat or milk for
Why is this?
Are we as farmers reluctant to include our customers in the realities of todays farm life and so censor
the 'nasty bits' of farming or are urban folk too busy to be bothered to put effort into understanding
what is going on 'down on the farm'.
Farming is a gamble from all points of view an although at times our leaders pose that we are in charge
of all the things that we manage- this is clearly not so as we adjust to what the weather, the
environment, the market and disease dishes out.
Quick TV pictures of a drought stricken farmer feeding the last of his winter-feed reserves before the
first winter frost displays the true gamble of farming.
A farmer's optimism is a lonely condition when dealing with the unknown of the weather, growth and livestock
- but that’s what farming is.