3 August 2001

PROSPECTSGOODBUT…

It should be a year of optimism for milk producers. Milk prices have risen – although not enough for all to be profitable – and quota is trading at its lowest price in many years.

But dairying is not the straightforward business it was when milk producers just took care of stock, avoided spending money unnecessarily and the MMB tanker collected milk for a set price.

There are many business decisions to be made, such as whether to sell milk directly or through a co-op. Increasing amounts of paperwork, with IACS, calf passports and farm assurance, also burden busy producers.

If that was not enough, the farming industry seems to lurch from one crisis to another – with foot-and-mouth still spreading to new areas – doing little to offer security. Good, skilled labour is also becoming hard to come by and that is if you can afford to pay them at all.

It is not surprising that there is little time in the day to step back and make a forward plan. But it is essential to do this, even though the result may highlight the need for some major changes.

This is a task that can be completed by any individual, although it may not help you see a way out of problems identified, such as low profitability. If you had the answers, you wouldnt have the problem.

Getting someone in to complete a business appraisal is currently free through the Farm Business Advice Service initiative. But it will pay to do a little homework too, according to a consultant reported in this update.