Every business is exposed to risks, including technical, economic, fiscal, HR and environmental. Farming is no exception.
In summary, we see our risks as follows:
farmers are exposed more than most to weather conditions, which as everyone knows has become a lot more volatile and, from recent experience, seemingly less predictable. Weather impacts our day-to-day operations. For instance, with the very substantial rainfall in 2012/13 we could not get our tractors and slurry out onto the land as we would ordinarily have expected. Since then the water table has remined high, which means that new rain largely runs off the land, particularly from the month of December on in the winter. Also, and more importantly, global weather extremes affect the quality and volume of food produced, which in turn will affect cow yields and fertility for some time to come.
farming is hard and often unpleasant work. Office workers have a relatively easy life. So, finding good staff in the first place is challenging Also, keeping the staff motivated and alert to their surroundings as well as always focusing on attention to detail is one of the most important challenges of the farm. Arguably our greatest operating challenge is to maintain our team and to see the members improve over time. We believe that is is the duty of every employer to help a staff member improve. Likewise, it is the duty of every staff member to help their place of employment improve while they are there.
Yields - tied to health, but every litre produced a day is valuable
Health - ill cows reduce yields, increase vet costs and can affect others
Fertility - affects milk yields
our yield per cow is largely dependent on the health of the animal and the quality and quantity of food. Over half of our costs are spent on food.
Quality - dependent upon weather, timing of seeding and harvesting and quality of oversight
Prices - dependent on the above and global conditions, which include not just supply and demand for the feed elsewhere in the world, but also on shipping costs and thus the cost of energy
Contamination - inadvertent contamination of the tank with milk taken from a cow on antibiotics will cause the whole tank to be wasted
Lifting - extreme weather conditions, mainly snow, can cause the milk lorry to fail to pick up the milk. This can lead to waste.
Price - we have no say over the price that we are paid
accidents can result in tragedy for individuals and their family. They impact morale and staffing temporarily and increase costs
Diesel - dependent on global oil prices and refinery runs and margins
Electricity - dependent on regional and global oil & gas prices
Water - dependent on national trends
drives wage pressures through the chain
dependent on global financial market conditions