More than 420 dairy farmers have volunteered to act as short-term mentors for the support service which facilitates the sharing of information between farmers.
DairyNZ Dairy Connect manager Janine Broekhuizen says the numbers of farmers volunteering their time for the service has doubled in the past year, from 225 to 420.
“The Dairy Connect service, which was initiated in 2012, has significantly grown. We’ve got farmers who are willing to provide support and advice on a range of subjects from animal management, staff, pasture and feed through to environment, business, adverse events and personal wellbeing.
“Despite going through tough times themselves, these farmers really want to support others by sharing their experience. Many support farmers have agreed to be part of this because they have received valuable advice in the past.”
The last three months has seen a record number of farmers using the service for advice or assurance.
“We’ve facilitated almost 60 connections over the last three months, this is a 50 percent increase over the same period last year,” says Janine. “Now, more than ever, the dairy industry is showing its biggest strength and that is the willingness to share information.”
Janine encourages farmers to use the service.
“If it is your first time experiencing an issue, the amount of information out there can be quite overwhelming. A few phone calls to someone with experience can provide a lot of confidence – I really encourage those who need some advice to use Dairy Connect.”
In mid-Canterbury, 50:50 sharemilkers Siobhan and Christopher O’Malley didn’t hesitate when asked to take part in Dairy Connect as support farmers.
“A lot of people have given us plenty of good advice along the way, which has made all the difference and this was an opportunity for us to give back,” says Siobhan.
The O’Malleys are relatively new to dairy farming. Siobhan was a teacher and Christopher an adventure tour guide before he started in the dairy industry in 2009/10. This is their first year as 50:50 sharemilkers, having progressed from lower order.
“One of the things we absolutely love about dairying is how people are so willing to share information, which is awesome. In tougher times it is also really comforting to share ideas around how to make the most of what little money you have.”
The O’Malleys have already provided information to aspiring sharemilkers who were looking for information around setting up budgets. Both parties found it a positive experience.
“I thought it was great, you are being contacted by someone who is motivated. They were really clear about what they wanted so it was really easy to give them answers or steer them in the right direction,” says Siobhan.
Dairy Connect has been expanded as part of DairyNZ’s Tactics campaign designed to provide a variety of support in response to a low milk price, including specialist events, one-on-one support and sharing of farmer information.
For more information on Dairy Connect visit dairynz.co.nz/dairyconnect.
DairyNZ communications and marketing advisor
021 703 068