Young farmers urged to upskill - Rabobank program
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Young farmers urged to upskill to navigate changing agricultural environment

The New Zealand agricultural sector is facing considerable change in 2017 and strong business management skills are needed if farmers are to secure a successful future for their business, the head of Rabobank New Zealand has told farmers.

Announcing the opening of applications for this year’s Farm Managers Program, Rabobank New Zealand CEO Daryl Johnson said the Bank viewed 2017 as a key year for New Zealand agriculture with developments throughout the year likely to shape the sector’s prospects in years to come.

“While several of New Zealand’s key agricultural sectors are well positioned to achieve strong returns in 2017, the trend towards global protectionism, upcoming trade negotiations, incoming environmental regulations and the general election planned for September, all have the potential to reshape the operating environment for New Zealand agriculture in 2017,” Mr Johnson said. “And it is those farmers with astute business management skills who will be best equipped to navigate through the uncertainty and capitalize on the opportunities that change will bring."

Designed to strengthen the operational and strategic skills of emerging farmers, the annually- held Farm Managers Program covers topics including global trends in agriculture, business planning, communicating with influence, financial management, leadership and succession planning.

With Rabobank’s Farm Managers Program developed for young farmers, Mr Johnson said, “now is a fantastic time for the younger generation to develop their business and leadership skills, particularly those looking to take over the running of the family farm or take on a more senior position within the farm business.”

With the Farm Managers Program examining global trends and key influences in agriculture, Mr Johnson said the program was focused on developing a range of commercial management skills to help farmers increase their resilience in this changeable environment.

As part of this, the program also looked at technologies and the future of the food and agri sector in an increasingly ag-tech world, he said.

Mr Johnson said the appetite amongst farmers to improve their skills and knowledge, particularly around the adoption of emerging technologies, was strong.

“Young farmers are leading the way when it comes to the adoption of new technologies, however, the pace of change is so rapid that it is often difficult to not only keep abreast of the new technologies but make informed decisions which will deliver tangible benefits to the business,” he said.

“The Farm Managers Program provides a forum for like-minded farmers from across New Zealand and Australia and a range of agricultural sectors to come together and one of the key benefits of the program is the opportunity it provides participants to network with other farmers and find out what is working for them in their farming roles.”

Now in its twelfth year, more than 300 farmers, including 150 from New Zealand, have graduated from the program with this year’s Farm Managers Program to be held from June 18 to 23 in Australia in the South Australian Barossa Valley.

With strong demand expected for a place on the program, and only 36 farmers accepted in this year’s intake, young progressive primary producers are urged to apply before April 13 at

Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world's leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 115 years' experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of approximately 8.8 million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of New Zealand's leading rural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to country's food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 33 branches throughout New Zealand. Rabobank also operates RaboDirect, New Zealand’s first internet-only bank specialising in savings and deposits.

Media contacts:

David Johnston
Marketing & Media Relations Manager
Rabobank New Zealand
Phone: 04 819 2711 or 027 477 8153

Denise Shaw
Head of Media Relations 
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 
Phone: +612 8115 2744 or +61 2 439 603 525