The grass is getting greener for the rural economy

13th June, 2017

The good news is that New Zealand’s rural economy is showing green shoots, but the fact one-in-five expects “no change” from technology is a touch concerning.

MYOB has been working alongside rural businesses for more than 25 years and to coincide with National Fieldays has released the latest MYOB Business Monitor Rural Report.

It looks at how rural businesses are traveling – which is important to the health of the NZ economy.

“Our country’s success is built on our rural industries. The last few years have proven to be testing with a challenging international environment depressing farmgate incomes,” said MYOB NZ General Manager Carolyn Luey said.

However, we’re pleased to see our rural operators reporting solid economic improvements”

Economic prospectus looking positive

“Revenues are up from 12 months ago, and business operators are confident that this growth will extend into next year,” said Luey.

“While managing increased debt levels, the sector also continued to invest in machinery, equipment and technology, which will undoubtedly be good news to the wider rural business community.”

Returns to rural businesses are improving, with 32 percent confirming an increase in revenue from the previous year, and only one fifth saying their revenue has decreased, while 40 percent expect to make more sales than average in the coming quarter.

Looking ahead, the sector’s predictions for 2018 show promise, with one third expecting revenue to grow over the next year, while only 14 percent expect their revenue to decrease.

rrural report 2017 2 (003)

Attitudes to technology

This year, MYOB also asked rural business how significantly they expected their industry to be changed by technology over the coming decade.

Concerningly, almost 1-in-5 operators expects no change from technology, with 45 percent expecting only slight change and 35 percent expecting significant change.

Ms Luey said it’s time for some in New Zealand’s rural sector to reconsider their approach to technological developments and embrace the opportunities of the future in the same way as they, historically, employed innovation to establish the country’s international farming reputation.

“For over 150 years, New Zealand farmers have been innovators. New Zealand’s reputation for ‘No. 8’ wire ingenuity came from our farming communities who had to make do with what was available to build an internationally successful industry,” she said.

“However, according to our latest Business Monitor data, far fewer rural-based businesses are preparing for their industry to significantly change due to technology and most are embracing new technologies far more slowly than their city counterparts.” she said.

Rural operators are the least likely to adopt new technologies, with close to half (43 per cent) saying they’re reluctant to embrace tech advancements, in stark contrast to the 28 per cent of their metropolitan counterparts who say the same.

rural report 2017_tech

According to the survey, one area where the rural community sees real promise is the development of robotics and automated machinery, with a third of the sector expecting these advances to alter their industry over the next 10 years.

However, Luey also warned that the sector should be aware of the many other tech trends that will prove to disrupt the industry over the next decade.

“There are many other technologies too that can provide extraordinary benefits in terms of efficiency, productivity and sustainability – all vital factors that will help shape the success of the industry in the decades ahead,” said Luey.

“Increases in mobile connectivity are driving on-farm productivity gains and cloud-based business management software gives managers more control over their operations.

“As dedicated supporters of rural business, MYOB is committed to doing everything we can to support our rural customers and partners as they acquire and apply the technology of tomorrow, to build simpler and more effective farming practices today”


If you’re out and about at National Fieldays you can catch MYOB at Mystery Creek in Hamilton – our stall is just inside the pavilion


You can also find a full copy of the MYOB Business Monitor Rural Report here [PDF]