Comment: Head of Analytics at NZX Julia Jones calls for the farming industry to focus on the positives.

It's no wonder confidence is super low right now. Seemingly constant "reports of doom" are calling for an imminent end of days for animal protein – articles trying to reinforce this are being published daily – and social media is heaving with corresponding messages of "doom".

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Not to mention the media missiles calling for change and negative perception messaging coming at us from all directions.

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I presented recently in Singapore on the value of the New Zealand dairy sector at the NZX Global Dairy Seminar and, interestingly, was asked by international companies why New Zealand farmers feel so down about their industry.

It may surprise you to know that within international markets people still value, admire and respect the passion and processes with which we produce – they think we should be cartwheeling!

Remember, we have the advantage of smaller scale, we are less than one per cent of the global food system, and we don't rely on getting volume out the door – we just need to make sure we continue to produce value.

Head of Analytics at NZX Julia Jones. Photo / Duncan Brown
Head of Analytics at NZX Julia Jones. Photo / Duncan Brown

"Creative" reporting

Let's look at those reports of doom. These reports are produced by those seeking funding for the technology and the economic analysis behind them is what could best be described as "creative". The authors neglect to factor in social displacement, which would lead to extreme political calamity – but why worry about facts, right?

Yes, alternative protein sources complement animal protein and are important to the world, but there is still a strong demand for natural animal protein.

We need to realise that, although essential fresh water and carbon proposals have been communicated in less than constructive ways, and some of the "fine print" needs correcting, through a global, big-picture lens, these proposals totally support the evolution needed to keep New Zealand animal protein relevant and valuable to the world.

The regulations may need some refinement, but they are not trying to kill rural communities; they're actually in line with what consumers want and if we stop and look for the opportunities within them, this could, in fact, be crucial to saving our communities.

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A self-fulfilling prophesy?

Have we as New Zealanders forgotten how to celebrate when good things happen and how to appreciate small victories?

Yes, I know business confidence in ALL sectors is at an all-time low; I keep reading about it and hearing about it, and my confidence drops, so does this make it a self-fulfilling prophesy?

Confidence is built through action and effort; it's something we must consciously focus on to rebuild.

I'm no stranger to adversity, I have seen some really dark days personally, so I get the pain of feeling like your world is crashing down around you. It's scary, it's hard and you may need to call in others for support and guidance.

Adapt, recharge and rebuild

But the rebuild needs to start with us. The success of our industry is absolutely up to us; let's stop disempowering ourselves and over-empowering those who are telling us to fight progress.

Let's use our amazing energy to adapt, recharge and rebuild – not fight inevitable change.

As we spend all our time focusing on what isn't working or what might happen, we lose sight of what is really going well and where we are succeeding.

Let's not be suspicious of success and start turning what is good into bad because it suits our narrative better [#RIPtallpoppy].

Bad stuff will happen, change will continue, disruption will keep rolling in like a storm and when it does, we need to face it head on. But let's not spend so much time anticipating the bad that we miss the good; we miss the precious moments of joy with family and the wonderful opportunities ahead.

I get knock-backs and negativity and have many critics, but I'm in love with our industry and I choose to stay in it and help find solutions. I won't give up; I'm determined to proactively look for positives and opportunities because I believe in its potential success.

All I ask is that you take a moment to believe in your ability to adapt and create opportunities from whatever comes your way.

You are more capable than you think you are, and you have more choices than you realise.

- Julia Jones is Head of Analytics at NZX and a former KPMG farm enterprise specialist.