Tell it like it is

In the market agency business, the establishment of a sound working relationship between producer and market agent remains the single most crucial requirement for success.

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This isn’t a ‘rule’ made up by any person or organisation – it’s simply a fundamental requirement of any business! Building on my column of 5 October – how do market agencies comprising ‘Previously Disadvantaged Individuals’ (PDIs), which are struggling to survive, fare when it comes to this requirement?

There are some exceptions, but the answer is: “Not well!”

I can hear the howls of derision from the PDI guys and the many reasons they’ll give for struggling to build good working relationships with producers. There’s the ‘race card’; lack of support from the market authority or the government; no legislation to force farmers to supply PDI market agents; and a few other crazy claims. Yes, many of the ‘reasons’ are valid, but one remains conspicuous by its absence.

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Get out there
I’ve heard one speaker after another in endless meetings and seminars carry on about the need for this or that, and how the government should come to the party and the market authority should be more supportive. But nobody ever says, “Get out there and meet the farmers!” How on earth do you build a business if you don’t pay attention to your most important clients?

There are PDI market agencies which have built excellent relationships with commercial (in our colour-coded society, which was supposed to cease after 1994, read ‘white’) farmers, both large and small. If those agencies could do it, why not the others? I can think of one PDI agent whose dislike of anything ‘white’ will be difficult to conceal if he tries to canvas commercial farmers.

I know it takes money, but there’s only one way in which to meet farmers – get out there! Go to their farms, rub shoulders with them at conferences and farmers’ days. Make the effort to meet them and you’ll reap the rewards – even if it takes some time.

Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected]. Please state ‘Market floor’ in the subject line of your email.