Farmers tend to be financially conservative because they know many of the factors which impact on their businesses are out of their control.
No matter how good they are at what they do on farm they are always to a greater or lesser extent at the mercy of the weather, the markets, the value of the dollar and other off-farm factors.
That’s why they use the good years to prepare for the bad, making and storing supplementary feed and investing in things which will make their farms more productive, efficient and better able to withstand the bad years.
Michael Cullen isn’t a farmer but he was a historian so he ought to have known that the good times never last and been prepared for a downturn.
He should have made sure we had hay and silage to spare, soil fertility at its peak, stock in good health, repairs and maintenance up to date and money in the bank for contingenices.
But instead he’s overgrazed the paddocks, made only a little hay, ignored the need for fertiliser, bought toys instead of tools, painted the fence posts but let the wires sag, and employed too many people who are decorating the office and not enough working in the fields.
The country’s books are being opened as I type this and they’re expected to be in the red.
He can blame the drought, international commodity prices and the credit crunch, and he’ll be right. But only partly right, because had he not squandered the good times we’d have been far better equipped to deal with the bad.
He’s been a fair weather Finance Minister. He failed to make enough hay while the sun was shining so we can’t trust him with the farm now it’s raining.