#DairyCrisis – the elephant in the room

Elephant in the Room

In my opinion the #DairyCrisis is a direct result of the industry not investing in the capacity of its farmers to navigate and lead the industry through the minefield that is doing business in the 21st century

I have been watching the peer appointed dairy industry leaders David Basham and Adam Jenkins with great admiration over the past months.

I am very exctied to say that I believe it is clear there is a new culture at the top of the national body  Australian Dairy Farmers and United Dairy Farmers of Victoria

‘Doom and gloom’ speak ( farmers need sympathy) has gone out the the door replaced by ‘We are all in this together. We can beat this. We have a vision for a bright future for Australian dairy farmers and we are going to work with government and the supply chain to make that happen’.

I just love how they are communicating with their farmers and keeping them in the loop. David with his weekly newsletter and Adam with his very quirky video Weekly Wrap.

I have watched with interest a new culture of women in dairy putting their hands up to invest in personal and professional development to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to lead the industry forward.

Kudos to those I know of personally including Lauren Peterson, Di Bowles , Cath Jenkins and Erika Chesworth ( new chair of NSW Farmers dairy committee). I have heard on the grapevine that many dairy women are doing the same.

Its time for industry to follow their lead. I have seen what other industries do. Cotton is highly committed to investing in its leadership development programs. Australian Wool Innovation has a very strong focus on investing in its young people.

These industries are leading the pack, its time dairy went into overdrive to catch up.  I have sat on far too many dairy committees where I knew I didn’t have the higher level skill sets necessary for me to take the lead. I would look around the table and go oh no oh dear all the farmers around me are in the same boat

So what sort of mid career programs do farmers need to move with confidence into leadership roles?

Comprehensive-leadership-1

We need programs that focus on the fundamentals of team engagement and handling difficult conversations from conflicting perspectives.

We need cross sectorial programs that would see dairy farmers network with other industries’ farmers and see what those industries are doing well and bring it back.

We need programs that support our dairy farmers to get a world view and see how other businesses beyond the agriculture sector thrive in a minefield

We need programs that help farmers understand complex leadership challenges and corporate governance responsibilities. On corporate governance kudos to The Cattle Council this year for providing the opportunity for a number of its young farmers to undertake the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course.

We do have a problem at federal government level with the Minister for Agriculture also ignoring the elephant in the room.  Whist he has put $900K on the table to help dairy farmers achieve rudimentary financial literacy skills he appears blind to the fact that investment in research, development and technology alone is NOT the panacea for a vibrant and resilient agriculture sector .

Farmers do have the power to guide Dairy Australia in the right direction. If our dairy farmers want a bright future for their industry its time to use that power.

 

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