Knowledge there to be tapped
YOUNG dairy farmers are missing out on information that could save them the trouble of having to learn from their own mistakes.
Dairy farmer Colleen Laws visited Canberra recently to encourage the dairy industry to fund discussion groups at which experienced farmers could impart their knowledge onto young farmers.
Ms Laws farms at Jindivick in West Gippsland but is a committee member of the Young Dairy Development Program run by GippsDairy, encompassing South Gippsland.
“The recommendation came from Gippsland farmers that new entrants into the industry could have small discussion groups with experienced farmers as facilitators,” she said;
Ms Laws’ proposes such groups meet every six to eight weeks, and she asked Dairy Australia to fund the program.
“The average age of a dairy farmer is 53 so we need to help the younger ones come through, otherwise that knowledge is just going to waste,” she said.
“My focus is on how we can help retain farmers in the industry. From research, there is that missing link in that knowledge from the old farmers.”
She was impressed by how Yannathan dairy farmer and Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) president Noel Campbell encouraged his employee – and now sharefarmer – Dean Turner to network to expand his grasp of dairying.
That entailed attending field days and discussion groups, and joining the Young Dairy Development Program. Mr Turner is sharing his wisdom with younger farmers.
Ms Laws spoke of her proposal to dairy industry representatives, include people from ADF and Dairy Australia.
Ms Laws was among 15 aspiring dairy industry leaders in Canberra as part of the 2014 Developing Dairy Leaders Program (DDLP).
That program aims to build the leadership skills of people committed to the future of the Australian dairy industry.
The program started in March with a five-day residential in Melbourne with state and national industry leaders.
The next phase of the program involved a regionally based project with the support of an industry mentor, and concluded with a two-day residential in Canberra, where participants learn about advocacy and policy development at a national level.
Mr Campbell said the DDLP played an unique role in supporting the development of dairy’s next generation of leaders.
“A number of previous DDLP participants have gone on to serve the industry through ADF’s policy advisory groups, regional development programs, state dairy farming organisations or in other industry representative bodies,” he said.
The Developing Dairy Leaders Program was developed in response to the Australian Dairy Industry Council’s Dairy Leadership – An Industry Blueprint 2010-15, which identified 150 – 200 leadership roles across the industry, requiring 40 new leaders to fill the positions each year.
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