Farm advice: Being in the right mindset

By: Leo Pekar, DairyNZ consulting officer

Our mindset is heavily influenced by what stress we are facing in our work or personal life. Taking a step back and looking at the big picture often puts things in perspective.


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 are facing 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.

Threats or opportunities? 

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. The demand for milk alternatives and synthetic meats shows 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. It’s undeniable that consumer habits are changing, as people in cities are less connected with what it takes to grow food. And that’s not going to change.

This change is reflected by farmers who have hosted overseas farmers and consumers, or food company audits. Most host farmers must meet certification requirements around workplace practices, labour conditions, animal welfare records, and environmental footprint.

This certification is not only a great opportunity for farmers to add value to their business but also to strive every day on farm by making small changes to the way you do things, whether it’s 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’s an opportunity for this generation to make history in revolutionising the way we farm.

I think that’s something for us all to be proud of and hopefully in 20, 30, or even 40 years’ time, to 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. All we can do is take it one day at a time.

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