This post is one of a series featured in Farmers Guardian while I took part in the Fresh Start Dairy Academy, a farm business training and mentoring course for new entrants into dairy farming.
Two weeks later, the Dairy Academy moved on to buying and selling with a session about contracts and negotiation skills.
First up was Tony Rimmer, a chartered surveyor and agricultural consultant. He began by talking to us about contracts: what they are, the importance of actually reading them, how professional advisors can help, keeping things simple to avoid costly disputes, and potential pitfalls.
He then went on to discuss negotiations: thinking through achievable, equitable goals in advance, building a rapport and showing interest in the other party, and adding ‘sweeteners’ to make a deal more attractive.
Kim Stafford, a management coaching/training specialist picked up this theme of negotiation skills, stressing the importance of being prepared, listening more than you talk, and asking questions to ensure you understand the other party’s position. She also advised us about getting the most from the mentoring relationships which the Dairy Academy is hoping to encourage, and common problems to avoid.
Rounding off the evening, Lucy Squire, West Midlands Direct Supplies Manager from Dairycrest, spoke more specifically about milk supply contracts. She discussed the wide variety of terms available, the importance of picking the right contract to match your herd and farm, and likely future directions for the processing industry and its relationships with producers.