Posts Tagged naming our story

We all own our agricultural story…..that’s the problem Peter Kerr Nov 20


This post also runs at pasture Harmonies.

The trouble is; we all own New Zealand’s agricultural story.

That is, the huge collective effort that went into figuring out, developing and improving the soil, pasture and plant/animal interaction that is our pastoral method: is part of our collective birthright.

Unfortunately, NZ Inc has never (and as such never could) apply for a worldwide patent for the knowledge. There’s none of it that’s uniquely identifiable. If, perhaps way back in the 1930s when some of the eminent scientists of the day were working up their theories of how to grow grass/clover better, there may have been some form of IP we could’ve called ‘ours’.

That horse has well and truly bolted these days – indeed, there’s mid-Western American universities who would attempt to claim the mantle.

However, no one has ever claimed the STORY.

No one has ever said, ‘well, we work with rather than against nature, seasonally’. If you want a comparison, it is much like the way the Seregenti ‘works’; with animals grazing then moving on to new, fresh pastures in a circular pattern that is probably as old as the time we’ve been walking upright.

To mix metaphors, this method of growing, grazing, resting pasture is a globally unstaked claim.

By that token, we, NZ Inc can and should nab it. What we’d be laying claim to is responsible pastoralism – and for want of a title/name/brand, I’m proposing we call it pasture Harmonies (otherwise we’d spend all our time debating what to call it).

I’m sure there would be a bit of a furore if we did – but so? (The only bad publicity is no publicity).

From a big-picture point of view for NZ Inc, and particularly the companies and farmers with a financial vested interest in agriculture, naming our story would provide the missing glue, the rationale to allow us to work together when it best suits.

Because one of our main challenges, identified in a host of reports over the past 30 years, is there is no NZ Inc strategic vision.

That’s because there is nothing (yet) to consolidate around.

But the moment we named our agriculture’s comparative advantage, and allowed those who wished to participate (including partnering overseas farmers and companies) to use pH as a co-brand, co-story, is the instant we’d give ourselves a non-commodity future.

The moment we said, ‘this is ours’, and named the method, is when we’d change our offer to the world.

We’d also make more money.

Or, is making money something we shouldn’t aspire to?

For want of a name our agriculture flounders Peter Kerr Oct 23

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Every story has a name – except the one which describes our agriculture.

This, I argue, is one of the reasons we struggle to tell people around the world and in our cities about what exactly is and has been the basis of our farming’s comparative advantage for the past 130 years.

Let me provide an example.

We don’t start a story with: ‘This is about a wolf and a little girl and a grandmother who lives alone.”

No, we start, “This is the story of Little Red Riding Hood.”

From that basis the rest of the story can unfold. In a sense it doesn’t matter if some of the order, the details and nuances get a bit mixed up. Everything can hover under the banner of the name of the story.

At the same time, though there may be many variations on the story (does the wolf eat the grandmother, or does he lock her in a cupboard), it is still the story of Little Red Riding Hood. It is a story of good versus bad, and a girl with a red jacket that has an inbuilt hood.

Moving into the real world, we see countries that have earned a name for something they do extremely well.

Thus, no one has an argument about the idea of German engineering excellence, or Italian design flair or a Japanese minimalist Zen aesthetic.

Even though these are a generic name, built on the products and services which reinforce the truism of the name; they reinforce the story. The story is one of clever people, applied thinking, a certain style. It is part and parcel of those particular countries’ ethos.

However, we, NZ Inc, haven’t even managed such a generic name. The New Zealand method, or grass fed, or (the meaningless) natural don’t describe, don’t resonate, don’t provide consumers with a compelling shorthand that allows them to think “ah, I know what this is, where it comes from, what it represents”.

Instead, our wonderful products, the result of applied science to sunshine, soil and fresh air, are lumped with all the other commodity meats and fibres.

And all this because we have never given what we do a name or brand (which is merely shortand for the story).

This is why I argue that the moment we name our method is the instant we totally reposition ourselves in the minds of consumers, and give ourselves a strategic platform to upsell everything from animal genetics to electric fences (as well as the method itself) to other farmers around the world.

From that point on, we allow ourselves to play a completely different game.

But maybe I’m talking through the proverbial hole in my head. Or am I?

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