First the good news – the payout. Now the not so good news – look at the price of things. Westport dairy farmer John Milne considers the dilemma.

What a forecast for a record payout.

Sound’s fantastic doesn’t it?

This isn’t our first rodeo in regards to getting the icing on the cake, for the hard graft and sticking with this game. Now getting the icing to set on the cake is actually going to be quite a different situation, which not many of us have seen before.

Constant conversations between us and fellow farmers are strongly following the same line.

“Hell things have got expensive” or “did you see what happened to fertiliser prices?”. It’s definitely showing through at present.

So what can we do about it? That’s a question that has been bandied around between ourselves regularly.

One thing that will be forefront of our decision making is “If you are going to do it, do it once and do it properly”. That’s the biggest saving you will make.

The increases are across the board, whether it is fertiliser, feed or consumables everything has leapt in price. I could list a few examples but you will all be noticing them. Supply and demand is the one thing that is really concerning, probably more so than the increases, to be completely honest. You know you need it but have to wait, and who knows what that will add to the cost.

Moving forward is going to look something completely new for us from what we have been used to. Planning for plant replacement, it’s not going to be a matter of getting a specification of what you want.

It’s going to take planning and commitment to putting your name on something that is 12-18 months away from arriving. That’s quite a mindset shift that we will have to adjust too. So in the meantime you will keep patching up and repairing bits and pieces in the hope you can just keep the gear running just that wee bit longer. This is where planning must come into our businesses now.

I’m sure suppliers want that conversation as well, their mindset has definitely changed from 12 months ago. No longer trying to force the latest new machine or hardware on to you as quickly as possible, they are just happy to have enquiries now and most will have the same opening line: “We could sell it to you if we could get it”.

I think back to my Nana sitting in her chair and telling us kids of when she grew up in tough times. When she and my Grandad ordered a new tractor after the Great Depression, they couldn’t get it unless they ordered a new car as well. That’s how the world got trading again.

The shipping and cargo freight will sort itself out, I’m sure of it, but it’s going to take a long time. There’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge yet, so to speak.

I’m sure one day we will sit back and say “I can remember when we waited four months for a new ATV, six months for a new ute” and so on.

No one will remember the payout though.