A closer look at the future of farming with Pāmu Farms CEO Mark Leslie

A closer look at the future of farming with Pāmu Farms CEO Mark Leslie

Pāmu Farms is a state-owned farming enterprise in New Zealand, that has a broad portfolio of 112 farms that produce a diverse range of products including milk, beef, lamb, wool, venison, wood and more.

In te reo Māori, the word 'Pāmu' means 'to farm' an appropriately literal translation for a business that stands not only to practice sustainable and safe farming but also reflects Kaitiakitanga, the Maori consent of guardianship of the environment.

In a year of devastating and unpredictable weather, Chief Executive Mark Leslie provided insight into how Pāmu optimizes its farm operations and manages the impact of events such as Cyclone Gabrielle.

"24 of our farms had a level of impact. Our seven farms up the East coast of the North Island were heavily impacted... but we're taking that long-term view as well and looking at it," Leslie shared. 

"We've been doing some work where we're looking at sort of 20-30 years, what climate could look like on some of these farms."

Farming profitability was another focal point of the discussion. Despite the price pressures in the farming sector, Pāmu has continued to strive for optimal profitability. 

Leslie discussed how Pāmu's maintenance plans are optimized between farms and how product mix can vary depending on product prices. 

He also highlighted the potential for spring milk to provide both revenue diversification and lower emission profiles compared to other livestock farming methods.

In an industry where cost efficiency is vital, Leslie underscored the importance of keeping up with market trends and being competitive in providing good conditions for farming teams. 

"Like everybody, [we] also ensure we were providing good conditions for our team, and whether it's housing or whether it's wages, to make sure that we're competitive and we can keep good people to be able to run and optimize those farms."

However, amid discussions about profits and strategic planning, he highlighted a critical aspect often overlooked in farming – mental health. 

"Looking after number one in terms of that mental wellness piece... will actually allow you to keep looking for those opportunities to be more possible on farm."

He emphasized the power of community, encouraging conversations with neighbours, and the necessity to take breaks for the sake of one's mental health.

Listen to the full chat between Pāmu Chief Executive Mark Leslie and Dominic George above.

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