Tuesday, 15 May 2012 09:14

SIDE to challenge farmer views

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People, perception and pride is the theme of this year's South Island Dairy Event (SIDE), challenging dairy farmers' views on the industry now and into the future.

To be held in Dunedin for the first time, this year's conference is about updating knowledge, reviewing what needs to be done, and reflecting on personal and industry achievements.

SIDE organising committee chairman Brangka Munan says the line-up of speakers is very broad, very experienced and will challenge dairy farmer perceptions. Up to 600 farmers are expected to attend at the University of Otago venue from June 25 to 27.

"Our line-up will not only cover on the practical side of dairy farming, but will actively encourage pride. The dairy industry is vital to New Zealand's economy, and it's important that we actually take pride in our success, and how far we've come over the last 100 years" says Munan.

"We only need to think about the expertise our farmers have gained in production, in managing animal welfare and the environment we live and farm in, the technology we've adopted and our extensive business management skills.

"At the same time, we also need to take responsibility for the perceptions about the dairy industry, stand up to counter negative misconceptions and not allow ourselves to be browbeaten. We need to critically review our dairy practices to ensure consumers and the public have confidence in our changing industry."

"That involves people skills, ensuring our farmers and their staff have the expertise they need to do the job safely, are skilled in stockmanship, and want to work in the industry."

Talks at this SIDE will focus on helping dairy farmers move into the era of minimal intervention, and make sure younger farmers understand the dairy farming basics of keeping animals well fed, and in good condition, particularly around mating and calving. This back-to-basics approach will include an address by Otago dairy farmer Denis Aitkin on traits of the perfect cow.

John Penno, founding shareholder of Synlait and recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Trust emerging leader award, will talk about China in BusinessSIDE, and the implications this huge market has for New Zealand dairy farmers. There will also be a new media session, conducted by multi-award winning journalist Genevieve Westcott.

The three days of speakers don't only include dairy experts; they're designed to inspire and motivate. The Swazi Man Davey Hughes will share his adventures and his fascinating business and conservation success story, and well known motivator Rob Hamill will impart his Atlantic rowing stories, challenging farmers to understand that if you're not moving, you're going backwards. David Todd's "Toddytalks" session will help participants to see success as achieving what they value, helping people to discover what that means. Winner of the World Young Business Achievers award in Beijing, Sue Lindsay's will inspire with her dynamic approach to life, leadership and business.

SIDE is a joint venture between Lincoln University, DairyNZ and South Island dairy farmers, supported by ANZ, ASB, Rabobank and Ravensdown.

For a copy of the programme and to register online, go to www.side.org.nz

Registrations received by 31 May 2012 qualify for the discounted earlybird rate of $275 (including GST). After this date, full registration is $300 (including GST).

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