Dumbalk North dairy farmer Damian Murphy and GippsDairy extension coordinator Tony Platt at the Meeniyan Tight Times event.

Dumbalk North dairy farmer Damian Murphy and GippsDairy extension coordinator Tony Platt at the Meeniyan Tight Times event.

Poowong dairy farmer Jim Forbes and Leongatha South dairy farmer Tim Cashin at the Korumburra Tactics for Tight Times event.

Poowong dairy farmer Jim Forbes and Leongatha South dairy farmer Tim Cashin at the Korumburra Tactics for Tight Times event.

TACTICS for Tight Times meetings held in Korumburra and Meeniyan last week have focused on keeping lines of communication open between dairy farmers and those that support them.
The Tactics sessions, which were the first of six dairy service levy funded Tactics events across Gippsland in the space of a week, had a theme of Finances, Feed and Friends.
GippsDairy regional manager Allan Cameron said the big turnout for both events was a sign that farmers were looking to develop strategies to get through the current difficult period.
“One of the really interesting messages we heard from the meetings was that those farmers who have got on the front foot and spoken to their financial advisors are already feeling better about their situation,” he said.
“Once they had that discussion, they knew where they stood and could get on with planning the winter and spring and trying to grow as much grass as possible.”
Marshall Scott from Rural Financial Counselling Service in Gippsland said a raft of financial assistance programs are now available to dairy farmers, including low interest concessional loans, drought concessional loans and farm household allowances.
Mr Scott said one of the first financial moves that dairy farmers should make is to start talking to their bank manager, accountant or a financial counsellor.
“It’s about having open communication channels,” he said.
“Sometimes people do the opposite to what they should be doing and they shut down, when they should be looking at being more open in this situation.”
Speaking at the Tactics event at Korumburra, Mr Scott said it was critical that farmers understood that banks will try to help them get through the current economic climate.
“Banks and farmers have a business relationship and the bank manager wants to work with the farmer and wants the best business outcome.
“It’s not in the interest of the bank to have farmers in trouble,” he said.
“Equally, an accountant wants to work with his client to manage good outcomes.”
Mr Scott said sorting through the financial assistance packages that are on offer can be easily done with the help of a rural financial counsellor.
“For those farmers who need to access the government assistance that is available, we can make sure they are aware of what is out there,” he said.
“Even if they don’t need something now, they might want to access it down the track.”
Farmers at the meetings were also keen to discuss feed strategies and likely grain prices as well as fodder alternatives.
Tarwin Vet Clinic’s Peter De Garis offered advice on what impact various cost cutting methods could have on herd health, while farmers were urged to look out for the physical and mental well-being of their family, friends and neighbours.
“Just being at these events was a great chance to have a chat, share ideas and get a few hours away from the farm,” Mr Cameron said.
“It’s important that people feeling the strain have someone they can talk to, so the message was to look out for anyone in the industry who’s not travelling well and can do with some support.”
For information on any issues discussed here, contact GippsDairy on 5624 3900 or email executiveassistant@gippsdairy.com.au