Financial resilience of some businesses in our farming community is a real concern.
Alarm bells rang for me after a recent comment from a rural consultant was aired. He told me he was organising finance for some of his clients because Fonterra had re-adjusted the advance payment rate.
The payout prediction and the advanced payments are still based on $6-plus.
Milk company payouts, the way they're structured and what impacts on them can mean they are volatile. It's pretty boom or bust for farmers, their families and communities. Couple this with the impact of adverse events that can turn-up in the form of a flood, or a drought, it all adds up to a difficult situation to climb out of.
It has come to my attention some farmers are just surviving – just able to make it from month to month so if there is a payment shock or an adverse event it can, and does, cause a stressed business and a stressed farmer.
We've had a recent issue with Fonterra restructuring their advance payment. There are reports of cash flow issues for some farmers and therefore a need to go to banks for finance to get through this next period.
We've got too many people living on the edge and vulnerable to cash flow issues.
The advice I want to offer comes in two parts: don't let your pride get in the way – if you need financial assistance now approach your bank. Explain the circumstances. Take proof of your cash flow. Listen to what the bank staff have to say.
When you are through the other side of this financial shock it will be important to set about creating a business that is more financially resilient. Talk to a mentor or someone you trust and ask for help about how to do this. It could well involve a complete review of your business structure. It may mean some big calls need to be made.
A sound business will be one that is environmentally and economically resilient and sustainable. We all need to be working towards that. It is all part of the package of being a successful farmer in the 21st century.