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Christmas Gifts - By the Alderney

The rain that fell in the Manawatu on Christmas Day and continued to the New Year must have been the best present any local dairy farmer could get. It freshened the grass, washed in fertilizer, germinated summer crops, filled the rain water tanks and raised the spirits of all those people who work the land. I hope it fell on most areas of New Zealand. It was one of those gifts that can be taken, and for which no reservation or negative thought can be imagined.

Unfortunately, with the presents that get placed under the tree, wrapped in exciting paper, there are a few that are opened with doubt and inward intrepidation. The colour, the style, the flavour and the make are just some of the internal worries that pass secretly through the mind with such gifts. Regardless of the suppressed concerns one smiles and thanks the donor with all the warmth and charm one can muster. Christmas time is a time to be positive. Accordingly, I was determined to be in positive space when I wrote this note.

The days before Christmas served up just such a chance as the Global Dairy Co giant was wheeled out from under the tree for its first public display. Most dairy farmers knew, I think, that this present was coming, and heaved a sigh of relief when it arrived. It means to those who want it, a chance to supply a competitive cooperative that has a size to feel comfortable on the world market.

It means that two large dairy companies will not be working against each other, and indulging in questionable expansion to further theoretical individual company strength. It means the end of doubling up of many functions in the form of the Dairy Board, one pay out across most of the nation, more balancing of product mix amongst the factories, further balancing of milk into those factories, an orderly entrance for new supply, an organized advancement of the dairy industry and most importantly, more money to the producer owners of the cooperative.

The rain that fell in the Manawatu on Christmas Day and continued to the New Year must have been the best present any local dairy farmer could get. It freshened the grass, washed in fertilizer, germinated summer crops, filled the rain water tanks and raised the spirits of all those people who work the land. I hope it fell on most areas of New Zealand.

It was one of those gifts that can be taken, and for which no reservation or negative thought can be imagined. Unfortunately, with the presents that get placed under the tree, wrapped in exciting paper, there are a few that are opened with doubt and inward intrepidation.

The colour, the style, the flavour and the make are just some of the internal worries that pass secretly through the mind with such gifts. Regardless of the suppressed concerns one smiles and thanks the donor with all the warmth and charm one can muster. Christmas time is a time to be positive. Accordingly, I was determined to be in positive space when I wrote this note.

The days before Christmas served up just such a chance as the Global Dairy Co giant was wheeled out from under the tree for its first public display. Most dairy farmers knew, I think, that this present was coming, and heaved a sigh of relief when it arrived.

It means to those who want it, a chance to supply a competitive cooperative that has a size to feel comfortable on the world market. It means that two large dairy companies will not be working against each other, and indulging in questionable expansion to further theoretical individual company strength.

It means the end of doubling up of many functions in the form of the Dairy Board, one pay out across most of the nation, more balancing of product mix amongst the factories, further balancing of milk into those factories, an orderly entrance for new supply, an organized advancement of the dairy industry and most importantly, more money to the producer owners of the cooperative.

It represents the ultimate model of a cooperative that the industry could conceive and it was the cooperative structure that 95% of us wanted only a few years ago. Some would argue that this number has reduced in recent times but still a large majority believe in the concept.

The comfort of avoiding the hassles of individually marketing one’s milk could well be the underlying reason for the coop support, but that is linked to the dairy farmer psyche and is nothing to be ashamed of. The control of ownership, too, is a driving force for the maintenance of the system. Global Co is a fantastic step for the future of dairy farming in New Zealand, and will bring a smile to many faces.

Now lets quietly consider just a few of the doubts. Is the size of the new conglomerate going to create efficiency or is it reaching the unwieldy size?Are the endeavours to keep checks on efficiency, share values, and other benchmarks going to, themselves, create inefficiency? Is the perceived farmer ownership going to be in name only, as the directorate becomes more remote?

Jobs are going to disappear, with chairmen and directors already falling by the wayside. There will only be room for one CEO. The leaders at the top knew the game plan and helped model it, but spare a thought for those further down the scale who will soon find themselves redundant and need new career paths. Their jobs disappear as part of the drive to put more money into the farmers’ pockets.

How are the government and its various bodies going to react? This deal needs taxation relief, new legislation and the chance to side step the Commerce Commission. The latter group is not going to sit back helplessly and be ignored, for this is their reason for existence. Under a coalition government what sort of bartering or horse-trading will need to be done behind the scenes to close a deal? Maybe the new ‘peoples’ bank’ could use this as an opportunity to capture some large accounts? Certainly these parts of the negotiations are not going to be a smooth ride. The new Global Co is not going to get a blank piece of paper on which to write its wishes.

You, as the reader, can add to the positives or the negatives as you wish. You can dismiss the above points as you choose, but the overall thrust of the Global Co announcements has to be seen as the end of the cold war and a chance for those that wish to move on to do so. The future is bright for cooperative believers.

Those that would welcome competition have something to look forward to, too. In just over a year the Dairy Board monopoly on sales will disappear and the free market situation will be available for those who wish to use it. Their time is coming, their planning can be started and a few months more of waiting will be insignificant in the light of the years their thinking has been stifled. With them they can take a realistic share value.

This Christmas present is wondrously wrapped. I think it is going to be grand, exciting and contain something for everyone, but we won’t really know until the ribbons are untied, the coverings peeled back and the true nature and actual form of the gift is exposed. I, for one, am sure that at that point all dairy farmers will be able to smile and unreservedly thank the givers.




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