Tokoroa dairy farm owner George Moss joins the ranks of NZ Dairy Exporter’s Milking Platform columnists.

I have been asked to be a new farmer writer adding a farm owner’s perspective to the very popular personal columns currently printed.

To those of you who know me from previous hats I have worn in dairying – I apologise.

Like many the spring and early summer was one out of the box allowing us to both increase production, drop purchased feed and make copious quantities of silage. This has now come to a screaming halt with production gains being lost as we grapple with intense heat and dry but these things are tax-deductible and that is detail.

At a higher level we have just had a meeting with our staff and HR lady to brainstorm what the changes are that we can make on the farms, so that these businesses deliver for us all – that is, ensuring each of us achieves the desired work/life balance, remuneration befitting of the responsibilities and hours worked.

The meeting was very productive with a few surprises coming out but it has given us a foundation to build a plan on. We have always tried to help staff achieve their goals with one-on-one discussions but a facilitated group discussion delivered a depth we had not seen before. More work to be done.

All this was set in context of how do we position these business so that they are resilient to volatility of pricing and climate, the prospect of increasingly restrictive environmental rules and I include greenhouse gases (GHG) in that, and possible taxation changes to cream it off.

These are the challenges I love. How do we maintain or increase our profitability on high-performing units and reduce our impact while improving the lives of those we work with? Do we, or how do we make these businesses truly intergenerational for those coming generations? And I do not mean family. This is one of the reasons we have for not amalgamating the units into one – despite all the advice to the contrary.

In the coming articles, it is my intention to focus on these big-picture challenges as paradigms of the past disappear – and sharing our thoughts and decisions with you.

As a background, Sharon and I are based just outside Tokoroa. We own three adjoining properties – two dairy farms and a support block. Home dairy (Pukerua) managed by Sharon with an assistant Nicola (second season) is a 72 hectare effective, system 2 operation with 175-180 moos producing between 78,000 – 85,000kg milk solids (MS).

The other dairy unit (Tokoroa Pastoral) is a 67ha effective, system 2 operation producing 77,000-83,000kg MS and is managed by Des and Amber Lockley (fifth season) overseen by me. The 40ha grazing block is managed by myself along with the paper work, accounts and as general fix-it person.

Tokoroa Pastoral was formally Tokoroa Organic Ltd, when we benchmarked the organic system against our conventional system and that data is available on Dairy Base. This farm is still an individual benchmark in Dairy Base as well as being a partnership farm in DairyNZ’s greenhouse gas project and it is our intention that the data and any learnings from this project be made available to you. We do not say what we do is the right way, but we will provide the data for you to draw your own conclusions.