The first of many meetings this year has been and gone and this was a steering group meeting for Dairy Push. Members are myself as a farmer, and as the funders; Fonterra, DairyNZ and the local district council.
Dairy Push is a three-year pilot project with the specific aim of lifting participating dairy farmers’ net incomes by 30%. It is an ambitious project and success will be measured by the relative change in the business performance of the participating farmers compared to the non-participating.
The programme was initiated by dairy farmers locally who were concerned by varying and declining fortunes of dairying in the area. It is farmer-led at the grass roots level with a local management team of six farmer members. The management team gives feedback, advice and guidance to the consultancy firm that has been contracted to deliver the programme.
It also comprises of a Focus Farm which is aiming to demonstrate best practice in decision making, change process and monitoring and obviously top financial outcomes. It is not designed to tell people how to farm but what processes and system(s) will help them optimise their business.
As a participating farm I will get three visits from the consultant each year and part of that process is the development of a one page business plan, the concept being that improved profits gives choices. There is also three participant group days where the members come together to both learn new skills and to learn from each other, brain storming sessions on cost saving and innovative ideas being the most popular. All members’ financial data goes into an industry database providing them with a report against any benchmark they choose. It will be interesting to see how we get on over the coming months.