Wednesday, 12 June 2019 11:25

Drive change rather than waiting for regulations to force us

Written by  SIDE chairman Simon Topham
SIDE chairman Simon Topham on his farm. SIDE chairman Simon Topham on his farm.

The South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) is among the big dairy events of the year. Chairman Simon Topham talks about what farmers can expect at the event in late June.

What inspired the theme ‘Creating Our Tomorrow’ for this year’s SIDE? 

There are challenges facing the sector and at times it can be hard for some farmers to see a future in dairy. But the future is bright, hence our theme ‘Creating Our Tomorrow’. There is an opportunity for us to shape the future of dairy and to drive change rather than wait for regulations to force us to evolve. Many farmers have been doing this for a long time, but some need help. 

We also want to remind farmers to reflect on what they’ve achieved over the last decade and be proud of how far we’ve come. We’ve hugely improved the way we farm and while continuing our journey to be more sustainable we should pause to celebrate that. 

What can farmers expect at this year’s event?

Inspiring and thought provoking speakers and workshops on topics identified as cutting edge and relevant by other farmers. That’s the beauty of SIDE, it’s an event run by farmers for farmers so there is something of interest for everyone. 

There’s also the chance to rub shoulders with passionate like-minded farmers and rural professionals you may not normally get a chance to catch up with. 

What excites you most about this year’s SIDE?

Taking my team to BrightSIDE, an afternoon taster session for new entrants to the sector to show them what SIDE is all about without having to commit to the event’s two days. We’re also using SIDE as a team building opportunity and will have a staff do at the dinner. 

SIDE provides an opportunity for farmers to let their hair down and connect with others off farm. And we’ve got the Jordan Luck Band performing at the dinner. That’s epic! 

Who are the keynote speakers?

We have an amazing line-up of keynote speakers including All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka, former Paralympian blade runner Liam Malone, business leader Sue Lindsay and Golden Bay YOLO (you only live once) farmer and blogger Wayne Langford.

Business leader Sue Lindsay is the dark horse. While she goes under the radar compared to some of the other speakers, she is renowned in business circles and the story of her journey is truly inspiring. I don’t want to give too much away but I can guarantee she will push farmers to think outside the box. 

Tell us a bit about the workshops and your top picks. 

This year we took a less-is-more approach with the workshops. In previous years we’ve run up to 30 workshops but we decided to focus on 19 this time to do each one justice.

We’ve tried to include something for everyone, and this applies to the workshops as well. Notable topics are reducing greenhouse gases, inspiring your team and improving herd fertility. 

I’m a cows and grass type person, so I’m interested in hearing the ‘Future Herd’ session by Waikato farmer Ben Watson talking about breeding healthier, more productive cows, and the workshops ‘Connect locally and sell globally’, ‘Who’s the boss?’ and ‘Nuffield scholars present’. 

What’s different from last year’s event? 

We’re holding it in a new region, there’s a new lineup of speakers and workshops, BrightSIDE initiative and entertainment. 

But the event will build on discussion from last year’s theme ‘It starts with us’, so there is a connection. 

Why should farmers get along to SIDE?

It’s a great excuse to get off farm, connect with others and learn with your team. We want everyone to leave feeling proud, inspired and in the right mindset to take on future challenges. 


SIDE Information

The South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) is among the big dairy events of the year. This year it will be held on the 25-26 June at ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.

It will have four keynote speakers, 19 workshops and opportunities for dairy farmers and their team to learn and network.

This year’s theme is ‘Creating our Tomorrow’ and will focus on sector positivity, celebrating dairy’s successes and overcoming challenges.

The keynote speakers include:

• Former Paralympic blade runner Liam Malone

• All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka

• Business leader Sue Lindsay

• Golden Bay YOLO (you only live once) farmer and blogger Wayne Langford.

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