Monday, 28 May 2012

Young Farmers a Cool Group to belong to, especially if you are at Massey University

This week has been a huge week for Young Farmers & Young Farmer Clubs in New Zealand. The National Bank Young Farmer Contest has been completed & Michael Lilley from Tasman has won this prestigious competition & been crowned Young Farmer of 2012. Michael is a Veterinarian working at Murchison on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. He is a recent graduate from the Massey University Vet School. My congratulations to Michael & his wife Kelly….it was excellent TV & a really positive story for NZ agriculture.

NZ Young Farmers is a vibrant progressive organisation that’s” on the move” & “cool” to be a member of or be associated with.  

The Young Farmers has modernised & is attracting motivated & enthusiastic young people from both rural areas & towns to come together. It’s highly social but there’s a strong learning component & what’s most exciting is that it is successfully attracting bright young people into agriculture. 

I’m proud to say that the Massey University Young Farmers Club has the biggest membership in the country & is a very active group on campus.

• Club Meetings

- Biggest membership in the country – over 130 signed up members

- Well structured, often have guest speakers, National Chairman, Fafe sage, Local consultants

• Professional Development

- Generate leadership Programme – 2 courses this year (see photo)

- First Aid Course, Heavy traffic licence, farm safe course.

• Community Fundraising

- Get involved in the Community - Industry research discussion groups – farm succession

- Silage stack covering

- Tidying up rubbish at Esplanade Day.

- Setting up stables at dressage nationals at Manfield Park

• Regional Competitions (National Bank Young Farmers Contest)

- 3 members in Regional final – Taranaki/Manawatu – James Lawn, Calvin Ball, Cam Shaw (see photo)

- Annette Crawshaw winner of the Regional Stock judging competition

- Over 20 members entered the Young Farmer of the Year District Finals.

• Events
- Recently held the inaugural Duck Shooters Ball/Wild Foods Festival – over 50 wild food dishes ranging from goat kebabs to venison and paua pies.

- Coming up the legendary Bus ride to Hell

Are you young? Are you bright & enthusiastic about farming & food? Are you looking for a “cool group” to be in? If so contact your local Young Farmers!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

"TEAM TALK" The Best Farm Business Management Tool I've Seen for Decades!

“TEAM TALK….I believe this on-farm staff/team communication system to be the most innovative development I’ve seen in Farm Business Management for decades”
TEAM TALK is a very exciting new on-farm computer communication system that is simple to use and empowers all staff members to take responsibility for their individual roles on the farm. It permanently records what has previously been keep on hundreds of bits of paper, whiteboards and shed notice boards.
TEAM TALK does not replace good person to person communication on a farm but enhances it significantly. I see it as being like a computerised template that with Ginny Neal’s help you can create a unique system tailor made for your farm & your team of staff. I imagine that each farm will develop a personalised or custom made TEAM TALK system for their own farm. 

 I’m very impressed!

“TEAM TALK” has been created by Ginny & Stu Neal (Farm Manager at Castlepoint Station, a large sheep & beef station on the South Wairarapa coast of New Zealand). Stu was a participant in the Rabobank Farm Managers Course where they had to do an individual project as part of the course.
They are in celebration mode as Stu has been notified that he was one of the 3 finalists from last year’s Rabobank Farm Managers’ Course in Brisbane chosen to go back this year to present their project……..his of course being the TEAM TALK now implemented at Castlepoint Station. Castlepoint Station owned by Anders & Emily Crofoot, who recently won the Wairarapa Hill Country Farm Business Award, in part due to the excellent staff communication system. Ginny Neal was until very recently a local country school teacher, now she has set up her own company AgRecord, to help other farmers to use & implement TEAM TALK on their farms & with their teams of staff.

AgRecord's flagship system is called TEAM TALK. It can be best described as an on-line internal communication system which assists with the efficient and effective day to day running of agri-businesses. 
 TEAM TALK is completely individualised for each business and can either be started from scratch or include existing documentation.  The concept itself is completely new to the agri-business industry and has already revolutionised the businesses it is being used by. 
 TEAM TALK encourages staff members to be a part of the business by ensuring accountability for pasture measuring, tallies, quantities, weights etc that they add.  One of its main features is the ability to store all information in one place thus replacing the 'bits of paper'  that never actually end up being recorded or they get lost.
  Users access TEAM TALK by logging in via the internet – this means it is accessible from any mobile or wi-fi capable device such as a phone, ipad, laptop etc and from anywhere in the world.  
It is a powerful tool for absentee owners or those that spend a lot of time away from the farm/office.  Staff/members can also access it 24 hours a day 7 days a week allowing them to enter information when and where it suits them.  Clients can contact AgRecord via Skype meetings and have their tailor-made system designed for them without even having to meet.  This is a huge saving on time and travel for both Client and AgRecord and allows you to spend this time actually creating the system for your farm team.

AgRecord  provide the client with regular updates on their system build and can even share what it is looking like during the design process ensuring it meets the clients requirements.

The TEAM TALK concept was adapted by Ginny Neal from a platform she has been using in schools for a number of years.  Ginny has grown up farming and has a background in educational management and many years of experience in IT.

Clients so far have included the following on their TEAM TALK system:

 Work schedules 
 Stock rotations
Key events & activities 
 Current hazards list
 Animal Health Plan
 Maps of the property
 Repairs and maintenance schedule
 Plant and machinery maintenance schedule
 Movements of team members over the week (leave, off- farm activities etc)
 Health and safety programme
 Inventory of sundries etc quad tyres, workshop supplies
 Chemical inventories and spray records
 Staff leave form
 HR policies etc Health and safety videos
 Live calendar
 Stud stock information
 Milking information
 The list is limitless.....each system is completely different depending on the needs or requirements of each agribusiness. 
Pasture wedge graphs can/could be entered by one staff member & shared with everyone. Your "Team" might include the Farm Consultant or Vet. If a staff member leaves your team they can no longer participate in TEAM TALK.

All this information is ordered chronologically and all past records are stored on the system, thus building up 'history'.  The functionality of TEAM TALK is very straightforward: -
 The person designated as the system manager has ultimate control over what goes on and stays on the information system.
 The platform is only accessible by those the system manager has invited to  'belong'.
 Team members can contribute information (e.g. stock weights, tallies) and any entry sends an alert to the system manager.
 Maps, spreadsheets and pictures, videos, live calendars can be readily imported into the platform.
 It has safety features that make it 'Herd Manager/shepherd/staff proof'.
 It is accessible from anywhere in the world as it is stored on the web.  Users can access it from any mobile Smart Phone or wi-fi device if not in front of their desktop.
What I really like about TEAM TALK is that it has been created in the farm kitchen, by a Farm Manager, his very creative wife & a real life farm team, on an innovative award winning farm. 
It’s an extra ordinary new Farm Business Management tool which I think you should investigate.

Contact details
Skype  ginny.neal

Friday, 11 May 2012

"Manawhenua" the value placed upon land within the Maori culture

“Manawhenua” is one of the operating values of the Kapenga M Farming Trust. The exact English translation of “Manawhenua” is difficult to explain. However it relates to the pride and soul of Maori people & their attachment to traditional lands. Manawhenua is about creating links between the people & the land. The concept of ‘mana whenua’ has many layers of meaning. It tells of important relationships that Māori have with whenua (land) and of the value placed upon the land within the culture. The key to the Trust’s success is a fundamental determination to maintain the manawhenua ownership & guardianship of the land for future generations & to grow the expertise amongst its own people with the expectation that eventually all its staff, including farm consultants, sharemilkers, managers & farm staff will have “whakapapa” (genealogy) to the land. The Kapenga M Trust has 915 registered shareholders from the Tuhourangi people.  
 Kapenga M Trust near Rotorua is one of three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua BNZ Maori Excellence in Farming Award 2012. The Ahuwhenua Award looks at many Farm Business Management aspects of Maori farming. Governance of the Farming Trusts is a key component that is being judged. Kapenga M Trust has a clear vision statement (see photo) & the strategic plan includes 5 points that drive the direction of the farming business. 
The retention of the land. 
Maintaining the unity within Kapenga M.
 Maintaing the authority & leadership of the Trust. 
Encourage young people to participate in the Trust.
 Promote farming amongst our young people.
 What many farm businesses lack is a clear vision & a 5 point business plan.
The Kapenga M Trust farm milks 1000cows at peak on 334ha of steep to rolling Central Plateau land. The farm employs 50:50 Sharemilkers Edwin & Marianne Schweizer
In the following video clip Edwin explains much about his role & his management. The video was produced by Kerry Fowler of Vid Pro Quo. 

 Watch the YouTube video here! 
 At the very wet field day Lee Matheson (Farm Supervisor, Perrin Ag Consultants Ltd) led the discussion about the farm’s production efficiency & farm business management performance using the NZ Dairybase.
 Paul Bird (well known to many UK & Irish pasture based dairy farmers) facilitated the day. Maori have some major challenges ahead such as getting skilled & capable young Maoris into both farm management & farming staff roles on the Maori Trust farms. Kapenga M has been a foundation investor in the Te Arawa Future Farming Training programme. 
The Ahuwhenua trophy is designed to encourage Maori best practice in Farm Business Management.
The three finalist's this year are demonstrating good governance & clear visions with the owners' values built into the Business Plan. The values are driving the direction of the business & the Strategic Management decisions made. I am confident that this year 3 of the best Maori dairy farms are finalists in the Maori Excellence in Farming Award.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

"Kaitiakitanga" nurturing our Natural Resources & People for a prosperous future

“Kaitiakitanga” in Maori means to nurture our natural resources & people for a prosperous future.  
This is one of 5 Farm Business Management values set out by Tauhara Moana Trust, one of three finalists in the BNZ Ahuwhenua Maori Excellence in Dairy Farming Award 2012. Maori Trusts have different business objectives to most other NZ dairy farmers. 
The Maori Trusts will not sell traditionally owned land & there is a responsibility to their people (shareholders) that extends beyond an annual dividend. As traditional lands will not be sold there is a responsibility & I believe a demonstrated understanding that they (the Maori Trusts) must care & nurture the land for the benefit of future generations. Sustainability extends to the people & the Maori Trusts desire to encourage their own people into jobs & positions of responsibility on the farms. This is a major challenge for Maori.
 At the moment the very best Trusts appear to be demonstrating good governance over the farm businesses. 
Tauhara Moana Trust has strong leadership & a very good management team.
 The Ahuwhenua Trophy & competition is a very good way to demonstrate “best practice” in Farm Business Management. The performance of the three finalists this year will effectively lift the bar for all Maori Trusts managing farms in NZ. However the real challenge is getting talented young Maori Farm Managers & Sharemilkers. 
Paul Bird facilitated the fieldday (achieving a fine sunny day for a fieldday is ofcourse a facilitation skill)
Tauhara Moana Trust has risen from near financial disaster (Crafars) & recovered during a drought year. This has shown real guts & determination & very good leadership. What I really liked about the management style was the focus on pasture management & the brilliant HR management. All staff are encouraged to take full responsibility for their part in the farm team's performance.
Tauhara Moana Trust’s other four stated business values include:- Integrity, Excellence, Innovation & “Tikanga”. 
“Tikanga” means that we will be respectful of each other’s cultural values.
 In an unstable world, where peace & harmony seem very thin on the ground, I find it uplifting that a Farm Business has a stated business value that includes respect for each other’s cultural values & differences. 
All farm businesses everywhere can learn much from the goverance & business values of Tauhara Moana Trust at Taupo.
 It raises the question….What to you stand for? What are the values which are important to you & your family? Are your family values stamped into your Farm Business & the way in which you conduct business both on & off the farm?