Looking at farm compliance as a cost to your business is now an outdated view.
While it may not be creating value, it is protecting the value of your business, with multiple financial implications for not complying with regulations today. These include; fines for breaching regulations, missing out on premium payments from Farm Assurance Programmes (like Co-operative Difference), higher ACC levies, lower farm sale value, and now banks are starting to pay more attention to how you manage compliance.
Regulations that have been in place for years, such as discharging effluent to land, has seen farmers fined $35,000 for one-off breaches, and up to $80,000 or higher for repeated offences.
The stack of new freshwater regulations introduced over the last few years hasn’t resulted in fines issued yet, with the Regional Council currently taking an educational approach, however, this won’t last forever.
Breaching the Health and Safety Act can result in fines of up to $280,000 for employees seriously injured or killed on farm. Reparations on top of that could be over $100,000 depending on the extent of the injury. Insurance cannot be claimed for fines given under the Health & Safety Act.
Breaching the newly introduced Water Services Act by supplying unsafe drinking water could result in fines of up to $300,000 for individuals and up to $1.5 million for a company if found negligent, even more if it was found to be through reckless behaviour. If you fail to register your water supply, you can receive a fine of up to $50,000 for an individual or $200,000 for a company. If you’re not aware, you are a water supplier if your water source supplies more than one household. This a new act and is yet to be tested in the courts, so it will be a wait and see to see how fines are administered.
Having a healthy and safe workplace is likely to have fewer claims and staff days off. ACC is encouraging businesses to further prioritise the health and safety of people by offering financial incentives. After three years of paying a work levy, you can receive discounts or penalties depending on the number of claims you have had, or not had.
Other Health and Safety incentives include not having the cost of a staff member unable to work on farm, reduce R&M costs of farm equipment and lower insurance premiums.
With consumers increasingly wanting to know if their milk is ethically produced, not only environmentally but also regarding how farmers are treating their staff and animals, milk supply companies are paying premiums to reward farmers that produce high quality milk.
Generally, many of the requirements for farm assurance programmes are what is legally required anyway, and they help to maintain a farmer’s social licence to operate. Not participating in these programmes means you miss out on much needed additional income.
A recent report into the dairy property market by Colliers Rural Valuation shows farms that have a good approach to compliance are achieving higher sale prices. These farms are providing a clear indication to potential buyers that they can sustain current farming practices well into the future, giving buyers certainty.
Banks are no longer just taking the book value of a business into account when assessing interest rates and loans, they are also assessing your individual risk.
Your compliance with on-farm regulations is playing an increasingly important role. Loans are starting to be declined based on environmental non-compliance. There aren’t huge numbers yet, but a client of ours recently experienced this with their bank, so we know it is starting to happen.
Managing the risk around non-compliance helps protect your farm’s value as well as income now and into the future. In many cases you are already complying with regulations, the only thing you need to do is prove it.
Watch this space for some informative events early next year, and please reach out to Olivia if you’d like to chat more on compliance.