WESTERN Dairy has this week confirmed Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan will attend its forthcoming Dairy Innovation Day to gain an insight into the industry’s issues and opportunities.
The event, which regularly attracts more than 300 dairy farmers and service providers, will this year be held on Thursday, May 4, and will be hosted by the Lammie family who lease their farm from local Busselton businessman Ross Denny.
Ms MacTiernan has also accepted an invitation to provide the keynote speech at the industry dinner that evening in Bunbury.
The close working relationship between Western Dairy and the WAFarmers Dairy Section has seen the combination of advocacy and industry RD&E, working hand-in-hand result in what is considered to be a key strategic opportunity in front of the minister to showcase the industry and seek government partnerships going forward.
Western Dairy chairman and Busselton farmer Grant Evans said Dairy Innovation Day was an opportunity to bring all farmers together.
“And the minister’s acceptance of our combined invitation enables us to showcase the value that quality dairy science and extension has provided our industry,” Mr Evans said.
“But her attendance also enables WAFarmers to explore with the minister the oversupply issues that have caused industry angst in the past 12 months, against a background of a working dairy farm.
“It is really heartening to see the minister’s interest in dairy and her desire to meet with our farmers and industry leadership team in this manner.”
Other high profile attendees will include Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday and Dairy Australia farmer director James Mann, who are both travelling from the Eastern States.
Western Dairy chairman Grant Evans said dairy producers were very fortunate to have a managing director who readily attended farms, ensuring the R&D body was listening to and responding to producer needs.
“Ian makes a point of getting to WA at least once a year,” Mr Evans said.
“We may be only small in terms of milk volume and number of farmers, but the Dairy Australia leadership team recognises the need to understand the issues that are unique to WA and will always spend time with us to think through appropriate regional responses.”
Another highlight of the program at the 2017 Dairy Innovation Day will also provide a case study of a Victorian dairy business and a New Zealand-based dairy system.
The participants of the Young Dairy Network’s study tour of New Zealand (NZ) late last year spent time with David March, the operations manager of the Maori-owned Wairarapa Moana Incorporation (12 farms across NZ’s South Waikato region) - and invited him to present at the 2017 Dairy Innovation Day.
Western Dairy’s Jess Andony led the NZ study tour and said Mr March’s approach to managing his feed-base in response to on-going low prices in NZ was something tour members particularly valued.
“With increasing pressure on milk prices in WA, having the opportunity to hear David’s really pragmatic approach to managing feeding margins in a pasture-based system, is going to be a real highlight of the program,” Ms Andony said.
Meanwhile Victorian dairy farmers Bruce and Andrea Vallance will showcase their dairy business and, in particular, their expansion into an equity partnership at a time which has also coincided with tight milk margins.
The Vallance story will be featured as part of a dairy business workshop session on the Dairy Innovation Day program, headlined by Western Dairy’s agribusiness team leader Kirk Reynolds.
Western Dairy executive officer and producer of the Diary Innovation Day event Esther Jones said Mr Reynolds was asked to take an in-depth look into the financial performance of the Lammie dairy business and to also take the crowd through the learnings from the Vallance dairy business.
“He will highlight the value of having intimate knowledge of margins and key profit drivers in the business,” Ms Jones said.
“Another really interesting part of the day is the opportunity I’ve been given to interview Betty Lammie and Sarah Kenny in a session where we will explore the role of women in dairying and, in particular, the challenge of introducing a daughter-in-law to the business.
“They have some wonderful insights to share and I’m confident there will be a lot of young women in the audience who will be inspired by the story of how Sarah has been introduced to this dairying business.”
A trade show and machinery display will support the Dairy Innovation Day program of events with the Landmark barbecue luncheon at 1pm.
The trade show will open at 9am with the staged program of speakers from 10am to 3pm.
For more program information and to book to attend either the day (which is free), or the following dinner, visit www.westerndairy.com.au
Footnote: The inclusion of the minister on the evening’s program is expected to significantly increase demand for what is a limited number of tickets remaining. Intending delegates are encouraged to book ASAP to guarantee a seat.