KEY stakeholders from across Gippsland have come together to provide a path forward for the dairy industry during the current financial situation.
GippsDairy’s Clearing the Air – Talking Tactics forum was held at Ellinbank with representatives from the dairy industry and the wider Gippsland community seeking an understanding of what has happened already and what needs to happen from here on.
The event had a theme of ‘Finances, Feed and Friends’, with more than 50 experts from across the region discussing how best to assist dairy farmers during a tough period.
Guests at the forum included farm consultants, DEDJTR extension staff, milk company field officers, rural lenders, fertiliser and feed company representatives, local, state and federal government representatives and GippsDairy staff and board members.
“This forum had a dual purpose – to work out the best tactics for farmers to get through the current situation and to educate those outside the industry on what the actual issues are for dairy farmers,” GippsDairy regional manager Allan Cameron said.
Mr Cameron said the Finances, Feed and Friends theme was about providing a roadmap to help farmers to deal with the current financial situation.
“We had farmers, rural bankers and farm consultants looking at the best way to navigate finances at the moment and how best to approach feed issues,” he said.
“Just as importantly, we looked at the emotional impact on farmers and how we can all help each other get through a tough time.
“What we need to do now is to get this information out to farmers, which we will be doing through the Tactics for Tight Times program over coming weeks and months,”
GippsDairy chairman Graeme Nicoll, who sat on the feed panel during the forum, said educating people from outside the dairy industry was vital.
“It was a really good event that brought together a wide range of stakeholders from across Gippsland,” the Fish Creek dairy farmer said.
“It wasn’t just the typical dairy crowd, it was stakeholders from around the region and it highlighted the fact that the dairy industry is critical for all of Gippsland.
“When you see a forum like this, that is genuinely trying to understand the problem and trying to work out how we can help farmers and the industry, it’s really heartening as dairy farmer.”
Respected farm consultant John Mulvany, who sat on the finances panel, addressed the forum on understanding milk payments and the impact they have on farmers and the industry.
Mr Mulvany said farmers needed to rest assured that, while the bigger picture of issues surrounding milk payment were being looked at, they needed to concentrate their energy on their core business.
“Right now, farmers need to be checking absolutely everything that will help them grow grass,” he said.
“Are black beetles eating the re-sows? Do I need to top-up my re-sows? Can I get some more nitrogen on? They are the most urgent things.
“The second most urgent thing is to ask what you’re being paid by your processor in May and June this year. Having worked out that, then work out what you are going to do.
“Then take a breath and say, right, we’ve got the short term organised, let’s work out the break-even milk budget. It takes a bit of time, but it will be worth the effort over the next couple of months.”