Where have all the farmers gone?

While on twitter last night the conversation got back on to the lack of people coming into the industry. This is becoming a real issue and I got to thinking about things farmers could do to help themselves.

Lets look at three quick reasons why this is occurring.

1. The Labour government a few years back pushed for more tertiary education. They channeled money away from trades and farming and into Universities and schools. The result is a shortage of tradespeople and agricultural brains. These shortsighted muck-ups are simply what politicians are paid to do. They create the money go round. Local governments could certainly do more to assist gaining and retaining ag-staff as well.

2. Farmers are their own worst enemies. The more equity they get the more land they will buy. Land prices are based on what someone will pay NOT what the land will produce. Because of that I have little sympathy if they are having staff problems. Farmers [apparently] are in it for the equity  so they will sell up when the going is good, you can’t blame them for that. Farmers leaving the industry mean families leave the industry.

3. Society. Technology and in particular social media has changed peoples lives and will continue to be so immeasurably.

The industry needs to STOP for a second and reassess what it is doing.

Here are 5 things that will help the industry in the long run:

1. Become Champions. Create a culture passionate people will want to be part of. No one wants to be part of a needy culture. If you have to really try hard to convince someone to milk your cows they will hardly be passionate about it nor a long term prospect. Stop the ‘want,want,want’. Start the ‘we have this if you want some you will have to work for it’. Name me a sports team that has won a championship title without having a champion culture.

2. Focus on your business. Good work environments will have good staff and good productivity. Everyone’s idea of a good environment is different that is the beauty of life. There are some great innovative ways to play with your business structure to get better results.

3. Agriculture needs equity and the industry needs farmers to return to the days where they gave good people a leg up. The greatest future opportunity now lies not in 50/50 sharemilking but in equity partnerships with trustworthy people with great values that you can work with.

4. Be a Role model.  Become more balanced in your own life because what you say and do around others shows your true colours. People aren’t fools, you cannot ask for something but be the opposite.

5. Take on a coach/mentor. If you want to get on top and stay on top you need  someone to help you get out of the valleys and up onto the peaks. The All Blacks are the best rugby team in the world with some of the best players in the world but to stay there they need a coach.


As with anything the 10:80:10 rule applies. In Agriculture there are a 10% of great people working to showcase the opportunities agriculture has for future generations. 80% are happy to jump on the wagon but will not put their hand up to help and the bottom 10% are on the next train out.

Share this with those you care about and become one of the top 10%


About Ian Handcock

Founder Fit 4 Farming initiative Promoting Farmer wellbeing. Performance coach.
This entry was posted in Farmer Wellness, Farming, Inspiration, Self- motivating workplace and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s