Challenges or opportunities facing dairy?

Trudy and Matthew Holmes.

DairyNZ consulting officer Leo Pekar says having the right mindset can go a long way in whether you see something as a challenge or opportunity.


By Leo Pekar – DairyNZ consulting officer in Invercargill


21 December 2018


At first glance, how did you interpret the above?

Did you see it as ‘happiness is nowhere!’ or ‘happiness is now here!’?

Neither is right or wrong, but how you answered may depend partly on your mindset.

As many of you know, this is heavily influenced by what stress we have going in our work or personal life. Although, our beliefs and genetics do also play a part.

There’s no denying dairy farmers have a lot on their plate at the moment, between meeting tightening environmental limits, consumer expectations, and competition from animal protein alternatives. And that’s just to name a few.

But it’s important to remember that with these challenges also come opportunities.

As Resilient Farmer author Doug Avery says: “your attitude determines your altitude”. I couldn’t agree more. Although, I appreciate this is often easier said than done and it’s something I have to make a conscious effort with at times.

I find taking a step back and looking at the big picture often puts things in perspective. Suddenly a road block often becomes just a small hurdle, and criticism fades into background noise.

Let’s take animal protein alternatives for example.

You could view this as a threat, or you could see this as an opportunity for the sector to add value.

Milk alternatives and synthetic meats show that consumers are expecting more from food producers. They want to know that the food they eat is produced ethically, humanely and sustainably. I think that’s great and something that should drive us to constantly do better.

And I’ve seen many of you striving to do this every day on-farm by making small changes to the way you do things, whether it be protecting waterways or focusing on taking the best care of your staff and cows.

There’s no denying it’s a challenging time to be a dairy farmer, but I believe it’s also an exciting one. There is an opportunity for this generation to make history in revolutionising the way we farm and protecting our environment for future generations.

I think that’s something for us all to be proud of and hopefully one day in 20, 30 or even 40 years’ time, reflect back and be able to say I was a part of that change. That’s something that keeps me going when times are tough, knowing we’re making a difference, even if doesn’t always seem like it. All we can do is take it one day at a time.

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