Wednesday, 30 June 2021 11:55

Farming sector morale on the wane

Written by  David Anderson
KPMG head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot says morale in the sector has slumped over the past year. KPMG head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot says morale in the sector has slumped over the past year.

More evidence - if it was needed - that farming sector confidence is on the wane, burdened down by increasing red tape and workforce shortages.

This comes in KPMG's latest Agribusiness Agenda, released at this month's Fieldays, which says New Zealand's role in a global "food renaissance" could be hampered by Covid-19 fatigue and sweeping regulatory changes.

KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfood said morale in the sector had slumped over the past year, with industry leaders struggling under the pressure. The report highlights how agribusiness morale has falled steeply in the past year as the pressures of labour shortages, shipping challenges and the unprecedented speed of regulatory change sap the strength of the sector.

"We could sense anger during our conversations, particularly in relation to the labour shortages the sector faces."

Proudfoot said for the first time in the report's history, it reflected tangible concerns over the part New Zealand organisations would play in the futureor the global agrifood sector.

"Each new rule brings new compliance and reporting requirements and often requires changes to core systems," he says. "The point was made that it is the breadth of change that is stretching many organisations. In addition to this, the Climate Change Commission's final advice on faming has also presented pressure for the sector to do its part, or even to do the heavy lifting for New Zealand."

Proudfoot added that the practical challenges caused by Covid-19, including shipping delays and labour shortages, were also adding pressure on an already stretched sector.

He says the pace of change is stretching many organisations, bringing added compliance and reporting requirements.

"Our conversations saw a simple request to the Government: 'Please ensure that work is coordinated across agencies so that consultation occurs, and regulations are drafted, in a way that reduces the burden placed on executive time'."

Meanwhile, the report also warns that while New Zealand's agribusiness sector is in a good position - it is not going to be good forever.

Proudfoot says organisations need to act now and leverage our current reputation to secure a "place at the table before our invitation to join the global food renaissance expires".

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