2016 - In Review

I don’t know about you, but for me personally, 2016 has been an absolutely amazing year.

I honestly can’t fault it.

Sure there have been some minor lows but not low enough to compete with the completion of my Kellogg Rural Leadership Course project, two business ideas being built on, a new job here with Grass Roots Media and so much potential for an equally as fantastic 2017.

I’m extremely excited for 2017 and once I’ve had a wee break - will be rearing to go!

The rest of the world has had possibly more lows than highs this year but ever the optimist, it can only get better!

Nationally, it’s been quite heart-wrenching at times with earthquakes, uncertainty around dairy prices, the unprecedented continued North Canterbury drought still wreaking havoc for farmers, then to top it off, John Key stepping down taking 99% of kiwis by surprise!    .
Internationally, Brexit has begun affecting falling lamb prices (5/10*) while we are working hard trying to get chilled lamb into China. Beef prices (6/10*) are softening with Brazil now being able to export into China and the US which has created increased competition as well as the US building stock numbers back up.
Donald Trump getting elected looks to be one of the most shocking occurrences in 2016 without a doubt, while the war in Syria is finally getting the media attention it deserves and breaking hearts globally.
In politics, both Rt Hon Nathan Guy and Damien O’Connor (Labour’s primary industry spokesperson) spoke in the past week to Jamie Mackay on ‘The Country’ radio show.

As predicted, Nathan Guy spoke of the highs of the industry in 2016, gave his opinion, rated each sector and spoke about the future while not brushing over the lows.
Damian O’Connor’s review was largely more critical - taking digs at Fonterra and Lewis Road Creamery/organic milk.
“There is no hope with meat” and that the red meat industry is going nowhere with “not much good news there”. - Damien O'Connor 

He had some good calls and spoke with passion around improving and growing the value around the red meat industry and value added processing, which I know many will agree with. It seems as though there are extremely differing views from each party and I will leave it up to you to decide who is in the right there.


Dairy (8/10*)has seen improvement with payout doubling since past seasons crippling low. Fonterra farmers can look forward to a total 2016-17 payout of $6.50-$6.60/kg of milk solids, before retentions, a huge leap from $4.30 in 2015-16!

Horticulture (9/10*) in NZ is booming right now and has had a brilliant year with Kiwifruit leading the way though Apata managing director Stuart Weston says a drop in Green kiwifruit yields (down 29%) will create problems for Zespri's export marketing strategy in 2017.  Internationally renowned marketing company, Zespri says 2015-16 sales revenue was $1.9b, up 22% from the previous season. "We're on track to more than double sales revenue from nearly $2b last season to $4.5b by 2025."

Apple growers are on track to produce their biggest-ever export crop in the season - 21.5 million cartons worth $800 million. That will be comfortably more than double the $341m worth of apples exported in 2012.
The Arable (6/10*) sector is looking OK at the moment and it’s looking to continue improving as Fonterra and other processors look to cut down on Palm Kernel usage, giving barley and other grains a chance to gain some traction again. Seed production is looking to be the biggest market for arable farmers right now including carrot, radish and asian greens seeds.
Forestry (7/10*) has had a great year and it looks to continue that way into 2017 with the China market remaining stable.


When asked what surprised them this year, Julia Jones from KPMG responded with “What positively surprised me is the farming communities activity on social media, especially how constructively they reacted to Greenpeace - super proud”.
Nadine Porter from New Zealand Young Farmers told us the biggest surprise for her was the number of industry led organisations beginning to see the benefits in collaborating and actively working together to ensure positive outcomes. Nadine also cited Brexit as being a major event that many people failed to foresee. On the same note, Georgie Cox reminded us how NO ONE could even begin to imagine that Trump would get the top job (with many of us still reeling!)

It really has shown us how mainstream and social media can be used to manipulate people, minds and entire countries.
When we talked about something that has be learnt over the year, Julia spoke about the change happening in the industry and how some farmers in future may choose to exit the industry because the change isn’t for them, while many more are ready to step up and embrace the new world.
Nadine heads off on her Nuffield Scholarship next year and told us that while technology must be considered as a constant disruptor, we must be two steps ahead and that we can’t ever substitute for the power of people talking to people.
“My greatest learning this year is that nothing changes without those conversations, that sharing of ideas and passion we spark in each other.  That is still as important as ever if we are to develop the leadership required to go forward.” 
When we asked what is one word you would use to describe the past 12 months, Nadine used the word ‘Volatility’, Julia used ‘Divergence’ and Georgie used the word ‘Change’
All of which I think fit the mould perfectly.
To let Nadine finish on a high - “there is an incredibly positive vibe across the industry at the moment, a rare collective understanding of what is needed and a willingness to achieve it. Long may it continue in 2017.”
*The rating Nathan Guy has given each sector on ‘The Country’ on the 21st of December.

Chanelle O’Sullivan is Grass Roots Media's Social Media Specialist. She originally studied agriculture, before moving south onto a Station, followed by a stint dairy farming. After three years vet nursing, she is now a Mum to two kids and creator of Farming Mums NZ and ‘Just a Farmers Wife’ while also working part-time for the NZ Landcare Trust and Grass Roots Media.

Follow her on Instagram