Future farm staff needs a big priority

To be considered world leaders, the dairy industry needs to lift its game to attract and retain quality staff, says DairyNZ.

As dairy farms get bigger, demands on farm staff are getting greater, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for people and business, Mark Paine, a key speaker at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, May 7-8. Farmers are encouraged to register now to attend the forum.

“We need to ask ourselves if we’ve got an industry geared up to accommodate the growing demands,” says Mark. “We have a range of initiatives in place and we’re working hard on all fronts – but is it enough? I’ll be keen to hear from farmers attending the forum about their priorities.

“Our research suggests that for on-farm roles, we need 1000 graduates every year at diploma level and above, and another 250 a year for rural professional and science roles.

“We compete for the best young talent from schools and tertiary institutions, so improving our systems to train and equip young people for their farm role is a priority. We also need to provide a world-class work environment.”

Mark says there is a growing focus on how farmers measure up to legal employment obligations.

“We’ve had labour and health and safety investigators focused on our industry in the past year. We’re in the spotlight and we need to shine to build and retain a good reputation as an industry,” he says.

“We’ve got significant obligations around employment practices and, as an industry, we need to lift our game if we’re going to be considered world leaders.”

Mark’s presentation is one of three people-focused sessions at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum at Mystery Creek, Hamilton in early May. The forum is free to levy-paying dairy farmers and their staff, and attracted 800 people in 2012.

Two Farmers’ Forum workshops will help farmers set up for next season, starting June 1, by discussing employment hot topics such as timesheets and health and safety, as well as a new system giving definition to farm roles.

“A new framework is giving clarity to farm roles, from farm assistant through to sharemilker. This means farmers will know what it takes to be successful in each role, what training is needed and the level of experience required for the next step up,” says Mark.

“This will be the first time the industry’s had such structure around farm roles and how to progress through the industry.”

Key speakers at this year’s Farmers’ Forum include Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce, Fonterra chairman John Wilson, Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler and ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie.

Attendees can also select from 12 workshops and cast their milksolids levy vote onsite. The 50th year of the DairyNZ Economic Survey will also be launched at the event.

Forum registration is essential. Visit dairynz.co.nz/farmersforum.


Media Contact:
Vanessa Feaver
Communications advisor
021 244 5608