LIC investing $30m to grow

Recently released Livestock Improvement Corporation half-year results are reflective of positive growth and investment back into the company, chief executive officer Wayne McNee says.

Speaking to Southern Rural Life at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu, Mr McNee outlined investment in the company worth about $30 million, a raft of new initiatives, and long-term plans for LIC.

''We just released our interim results this week, with revenue up but profit down. That's because we are making a big investment back into the business,'' he said.

Apps for smartphones and updating the corporation's databases, which required a ''big'' upgrade, were a part of the spending.

Mr McNee said further investment in breeding programmes and developing farm automation systems were other key focus areas for LIC.

A heat-detection camera was being released this year, designed to help farmers identify when their cows were in heat in order to inseminate them.

The product had been in development for the ''past few years'', but LIC had not felt confident enough to release it to the market before this year.

Most importantly, LIC was making its most important area of focus listening to and providing what its farmers wanted, Mr McNee said.

''We are a co-op - farmer-owned. Farmers want us to deliver solutions for them. `How can we make life easy for a farmer' - that's what we are focusing on.''

LIC was working through problems in the industry by consulting farmers, and hoped to achieve its aims of information-sharing by doing so.

One issue the company wanted to tackle was the incompatibility of many different computer programs available for farmers. The ability to share information between them would streamline farming processes.

''It's about making life simpler - easy to say but proving harder to do,'' Mr McNee said.

''Long term we are trying to be more collaborative with other companies in the industry so that we can share information and get products to work together.''

Key to the business operation was thinking about what consumers would want in the future from dairy products, including genetics providing for different, but non-genetically engineered or modified, milk products.

Alongside that was the challenge of improving the environmental efficiency of cows, and ensuring the maximum conversion of feed to produce milk.

There were also plans to increase property and overseas revenue, and become more export-focused, Mr McNee said.

- by Leith Huffadine