Taking on the presidency of Federated Farmers is pushing Don Nicolson to change from running sheep on his farm to leasing it for dairying.
His 212 ha farm is too small to justify the cost of employing a manager but too big for him to run by himself while also serving as president.
“My intention is to give it [Federated Farmers presidency] 24/7 attention, but I can’t do both. There is no way given the economics of sheep farming that I can employ a manager.”
His experience illustrated one of the major challenges facing farmers and a reason he was looking at joining the flood of sheep and beef farmers changing to dairying.
Last year, he made a net profit of just $1 a stock unit over his 2500 stock units. Leasing to a dairy farmer would earn him a net profit of $200,000.
“It makes no sense to stay in the sheep industry.”
Even without taking on the presidency the difference in income from dairying or sheep and beef is a pretty compelling argument for change. But even so, this is a reminder of the sacrifices made by people who take office in voluntary organisations.
The Oamaru Mail reported last week that North Otago Council of Social Services was disbanding because it had too few members. It’s the lament of just about every voluntary organisation be it sport or leisure club, religious, service or lobby group, or political party.
Yet the voluntary sector is still a vital part of our communities and society. We’re fortunate that there still are people willing to play an active role in them in spite of the cost in financial, and personal terms and the many competing demands for their time, talent and energies.