Ultimately, farmers just have two main roles. Caretakers of the land and animals and providers of their food. Proving we are good at it maintains that trust, Pete Morgan writes.

Give me good any day. Payout, weather, stock prices, public opinion and even staff. We hang out for the perfect ones but are they realistic or good for us?

Payout will cycle through the years under the influence of exchange rate, surplus dumps from other nations, droughts and now pandemic and war. High payout distorts expectations and drives up costs.

As an industry we have never been keen on dairy company buffering of payout. I can hedge if I want but weathering and learning from the tough years and being prudent in the good ones is the lesson reality gives us.

There’s no chance of the weather staying the same particularly as we witness the effect of climate change. We are having amazingly mild and dry winters now. Great for dairy farming but the more extreme cyclone events and brutal summer dry periods are unfortunately also normalising.

There are many great farmers. They inspire us and trail blaze with performance, leadership or innovation. They become so often by circumstance and their influence varies for all of us and so by focusing on being good at what we do, chance may see others benefit from our actions.

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.

First bosses have an enormous influence on building your skills and experience as well as imprinting expectations and farming philosophies. My first two employers, Gordon and Ken were exceptional. Good farmers that gave me the time to grow and the responsibilities to learn from. Just like the many expressions Shakespeare left littered in our everyday language, I find myself using words and concepts in my farming life that they seeded.

We don’t need to be great to run a sound, profitable, robust business. Or to have good mates, a family that loves me and to live a meaningful life.

We do need a mindset necessary for managing risk, a resilience for change and a clarity or direction. We get security in controlling what we can by running consistent cashflow and feed budgets. Financial feed surprises are rarely good. Managing feed surpluses are often more difficult than a deficit.

Election cycles, social consciousness and trends see our standing as farmers kicked up and down the field. We must always earn the right to farm as the New Zealand public have the dual role of voters and consumers so their perception of us counts.

Ultimately we, as farmers, just have two main roles. Caretakers of the land and animals and providers of their food. Proving we are good at it maintains that trust. Visitors to ours and other farms often voice surprise that they didn’t expect we cared so much for that which we are responsible for. That we love working with our cows, tend the land carefully, value our people and have great belief in the quality and value of our milk. Food security is vital to the stability of a society.

Staff turnover is very costly to us and impacts the industry. Select carefully, support their learning, review constructively their job performance regularly and be happy to be a stepping-stone for them in the industry. Constantly good staff performance is always linked to alignment of expectations.

We always turn the table and have our people assess themselves and how well the job is living up to what they expect. It is powerful to be known for encouraging them to move up, within or beyond your farm. Train and retain good people. The great ones will only be with you briefly so wish them well.

Being a good farmer is a great legacy to leave.