Dairy forum focuses on challenges and opportunities

  • Nathan Guy
Primary Industries

The outlook for the wider dairy sector including support available for farmers were the focus of an event near Morrinsville attended by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

The event brought together farmers and others from the rural business community, including MPI, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trusts and the New Zealand Bankers Association who together launched a new brochure outlining various support available for farmers.

“While the medium to long-term outlook for the sector remains strong, our dairy farmers are doing it tough this season. Low global prices are having a real impact on cashflows and farmers are rightly focussing on their business decisions and on-farm costs,” says Mr Guy.

“There is a wide range of advice and guidance for farmers out there from both Government and the wider industry. Today’s event and this brochure help pull this together and remind farmers they are not alone, and that we can come out the other side more productive and successful than ever.

“As a Government we are supporting this focus with $800,000 in last year’s Budget towards the MPI Farming Systems Change programme. A key focus is looking at ways to boost the performance of farms by learning from the strongest performers.

“As part of this around $175,000 has been allocated for an independent provider to do an in-depth study on innovative low cost, high performing farm systems.

“Along with industry we are co-investing into the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP). ‘Transforming the Dairy Value Chain’ is a $170 million PGP programme helping create new dairy products, increase on-farm productivity, reduce environmental impacts, and improve agricultural education. 

“Already this programme has developed new technology to produce mozzarella cheese in six hours rather than the traditional six weeks, and is investing around $3 million in farmer wellness and wellbeing initiatives.

“Last year we also announced $500,000 to support rural mental health. Supporting this is Dairy NZ’s Tactics programme, Farmstrong, and Rural Support Trusts in action around the country. 

“Sharemilkers are finding this season very challenging and are being supported by the $1.5 million SMASH (Smaller Milk and Supply Herds) initiative - Smaller Herd Farmer Businesses which helps dairy farmers, particularly those with smaller operations, to make the best use of their resources.  Forums and regional conferences have reached around 2,400 attendees so far. 

“Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand are also offering farmers one hours free consultation for an independent health check of their businesses.

“On top of this there is the Government’s ongoing support for irrigation, RMA reform and free trade deals, all of which are very important for dairy farmers.”

A copy of the brochure is available at: www.mpi.govt.nz/document-vault/11839