Total Ag Summer 2018  Newsletter
In this season's issue
Making staff an asset - not an expense -
Total Ag helps clients lift their farm business value through better staff processes.

Healthy Rivers - getting  your submission in shape -
Make the most of your opportunity to submit on Healthy Rivers with help from Total Ag.

Forestry - every tree has its day -
Total Ag can work for you to see if forestry is an option or not.

Lifting the hood on your farm purchase -
Find the hooks in your next farm deal before signing, with Total Ag.

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Putting a value on quality staff.

One of the most common concerns heard at Total Ag from all farmers, regardless of whether they are sheep, beef, or dairy is the difficulty in getting and keeping good staff. 
With the economy ticking along and almost everyone who wants to be employed already employed, good staff are an asset worth working for to retain and develop.

Unfortunately there can still be a “staff=cost” mindset among some farm employers. It is a tragic formula that instead should be computed as “good staff=added value” for the farm business.

And this does not have to be calculated only in financial terms.
No doubt well trained, capable and enthusiastic staff will do the job once, and do it right, helping keep costs down.

But they also bring a number of intrinsic values by being part of your farm business.

Day to day jobs are always more enjoyable in the company of capable enthusiastic people.
Time off the farm is more relaxing knowing your stock and land assets are in the hands of someone capable of taking good care of them.
And the enjoyment you get from farming is always enhanced if you are working alongside people who share that pleasure.

At Total Ag we are encouraging our clients to move how they look at their staff off the “cost” side of their farm budget, and into the “income” side.  

Good staff will bring additional value to the business that simply cannot be achieved through capital expenditure on new items like utes, farm bikes or tractors.

Thanks to their broad contact with many successful, high performance farmers, Total Ag directors Rob and Aaron can identify how successful staffing has contributed to those farmers’ successes, and help introduce those approaches to other clients’ businesses.

Getting Rob or Aaron to review your farm’s staff policies and performance can be a major morale booster for staff- it demonstrates an employer’s commitment to wanting to do things better, and their preparedness to have some outside help to do so.

Total Ag can also be a valuable third party sounding board for staff, giving them the opportunity to discuss their employment in a neutral, constructive interview process.

Total Ag can help farm owners review how all their staff members fit into the operation, and how owners can adjust all aspects of their staff’s employment package, and not just remuneration, to create a cohesive, happy and profitable farm team.

Contact Rob, Aaron or Heather today to learn more about how Total Ag can help your farm benefit from forestry investment.

Rob on (027) 320 3185 , Aaron on (022) 163 0474 and Heather on (021) 979 459.
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Getting your head around Healthy Rivers submissions.
Between now and mid-February there is still plenty of time to better understand what the Healthy Rivers process involves, and how you as a land owner can have your say in what is one of the biggest impactors on land use ever experienced in Waikato.

Mid-February marks the date when the Healthy Rivers commissioners commence hearings on the plan change, having received over 1000 from the public, interest groups and land owners around the region.

As the first step in an 80 year plan, Healthy Rivers or Plan Change One (PC1) has never been far from the headlines with it offering a mixed bag of restraints and impacts upon farmers in the catchment, depending upon how high their nitrogen losses are.

Beef + Lamb NZ and Waikato Regional Council have been offering a range of workshops to give farmers the confidence to front up and exercise their right to personally submit on the plan.

The aim of the workshops is to give farmers information as to what to expect in the hearing process, and how to best leave a good impression upon decision makers.

We encourage all our Waikato clients to attend the workshops – taking along a copy of your PC1 submission will enable you to start writing your hearing statement and have the tools to complete it at home well before hearings kick off.

If you are at all uncertain about what the implications are of Healthy Rivers Plan Change 1 on your farming operation, there is still (just) enough time to find out.

The main impact of this first stage plan will be in determining your farm’s Nitrogen Reference Point (NRP), and once all the region’s farms’ figures have been collected, you will know where you sit across the spectrum of nitrogen loss. Those in the highest quartile will be required to reduce their losses into the lower 75% of losses for the region.

If you would like to get a better understanding of Healthy Rivers Plan Change 1’s impact upon your farming operation, contact Rob or Heather today-

Rob on (027) 320 3185 or Heather on (021) 979 459.

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Forestry option needs caution.
For the government to get anywhere close to fulfilling its goal of one billion trees planted over 10 years it will need farmers on board, to provide the land, the labour and the commitment for such a bold goal that requires an additional 50,000ha a year over and above what is normally planted annually.

In early December the government announced an extension to this policy that offers the opportunity for landowners wishing to set aside areas of the farm for erosion control, wetlands, native plantings and riparian margins - if you are a farmer who does not fit the minimum criteria of 200ha for joint venture options, it holds some appeal.

The direct grants for projects can be up to 50% of actual costs and for planting on land with higher establishment costs, up to $500 a hectare.

On signing 20% of the allowance is paid, 60% once forest has been confirmed and is growing and 20%  four years post establishment.

The carbon credit market is  starting to heat up as carbon prices rise- now touching $25 a tonne  and provided plantings qualify as "carbon forests" they should also be eligible for ETS registration. If a permanent forest, all carbon credits on that forest should be available to be sold as an income stream, or used to off set future emission liabilities.

But it is easy to leap into this new sector and Total Ag’s partners Rob, Aaron and Heather can offer farm clients advice about whether forestry is the best way forward on their farm, or whether the costs and loss of income mean it is less appealing. 

Central to any decision to commit some farm land to forestry is the need to complete a Farm Environment Plan (FEP).

These are now required under most regional council’s planning requirements, but these plans can also provide a valuable means for identifying whether forestry is an option or not for parts of your farm.

While it may sound easy to put some rougher country into forestry, there are many pitfalls that need to be considered - location, access, slope, may all mean that land is better left in pasture.

A FEP may help identify that forestry is not the best option it may have first seemed, and simply farming the pastoral area differently is a better choice, without the loss of income that accompanies trees.

There are many steps, and many pitfalls in making the move into forestry. The team at Total Ag have the experience and skills to help you negotiate a pathway that may or may not include  putting more trees on  your farm.

Phone Heather on (021) 979 459, Rob on (027) 320 3185 or Aaron on (022) 163 0474 about forestry options for your farm.
Get under the hood of your  farm purchase before buying.
This season the rural real estate market is full of properties for sale. Anecdotal comments from agents is the number is not unusual for this time of year, but the relative lack of buyers is. Some agents report up to half the usual number of potential buyers turning up for property open days, and some quiet auctions resulting in properties being passed in.

Banks have toughened up on their repayment expectations, and the days when just paying back the interest was sufficient for a deal are well gone – expect to be asked for comprehensive repayment plans that include principal in the equation.

To help your farm purchase go smoothly without any nasty surprises after settlement day, it can pay to bring in the expertise of Total Ag directors Rob Macnab and Aaron Baker. Both have extensive experience in negotiating, financing and assessing farm deals, and will highlight issues that are far better raised sooner than later during negotiations.

Some of the big deal breakers today are less obvious than simply trying to agree on what the minimum pasture cover will be on settlement day.

They include effluent discharge conditions and consents and the impact of regional plan changes on a property’s future productive potential. There could be implications as to  whether that property even has any more upside potential left in it, should plan changes and nutrient restrictions come into play in coming years.

Plans like Waikato’s Healthy Rivers (Plan Change 1) are progressing, with many in the industry either not knowing, or simply choosing not to say, how much a farms’ productive potential will be downgraded by such plans.

An understanding of the property’s environmental impact is required, something only assessors with the required skills are in a position to do.  Rob, Aaron and Heather can provide the valuable understanding necessary to determine whether your next farm purchase may prove costlier than necessary.

It is also important to understand what expectations are on all parties during the period between signing a farm deal, and hand over taking place – knowing what expectations are in terms of continuing to farm the property in a “husband-like manner” can help avoid bitter and costly post-sale disputes.
If you would like to have more advice or insights on ensuring your next farm purchase does not come with any nasty surprises, be sure to contact Rob (027) 320 3185, Aaron (022) 163 0474.
Total Ag welcomes Kerry on board.
Kerry Bryant is the latest team member to join Total Ag, and will be helping with administration. She is looking forward to helping make life easier for both its directors and for their clients over the course of the farming year.

Kerry’s agricultural administration skills have been honed on her own 139ha drystock property she owns with her husband Jeff near Arohena in the King Country.

Having owned the property since 1993, Kerry admits she has rarely had any down time, preferring to stay busy and keep involved in many aspects of her community and farm business.

Today their twin girls Sarah and Kate are 23, and son Alec is 16, giving Kerry more time to focus on the farm and beyond.

Having worked for Total Ag director Rob Macnab before, Kerry did not hesitate when he offered her the role.

“I have always enjoyed working with Rob and appreciate his efforts with clients. I am hoping I can help our clients better appreciate the value of good accounting, and help them keep up to date with their finances, so they have their finger on the financial button throughout the farming year, not just at the end of it.”

Merry Christmas to all our valued clients from the team at Total Ag - we hope you enjoy a restful break over the Christmas-New Year period, and look forward to working with you in 2019!
Contact the Total Ag team today for insightful, high quality farm business advice:.   Rob Macnab -      Email:
                          Phone: 027 320 3185

      Aaron Baker -      Email:
                           Phone: 022 163 0474
         Heather Gilbert -   Email:
                          Phone: 021 979 459

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