NEW ZEALAND – There’s no doubt this year’s been a positive one for most in the dairy industry, but there is a lot on the horizon for farmers to keep their eye on. Helping them to see the bigger picture will be presentations and discussion at this year’s South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) conference on June 27 to 29 at Lincoln University near Christchurch.
The “Challenge your future” theme of SIDE will cover many of the concerns facing the industry now and into the future. Organising committee chair Simon Mackle said it will be the ideal place to bring some of those issues forward for discussion, and he’s hoping for a big farmer turnout this year.
Some of those challenges farmers need to be aware of are external political and economic influences, and sustainability in resources like people, as well as environmental sustainability including climate change.
“As an industry, and as individual farmers, we have to be increasingly aware of the environmental impact of farming, and what we have to do to still have our families farming in 50 year’s time. At the same we have be conscious of meeting the consumers needs and public expectations. What we do to attract and retain new generations into the industry also needs to be aired.
“Many of the global economic fluctuations are things we can’t change, but being aware of the climate we operate in and what’s going on beyond the farm gate helps each of us with long-term decision making.”
Having speakers and discussion forums to address just some of those concerns assists to understand the issue better, hear new ideas, focus the thinking, and make better-informed choices. “If we don’t talk about these things and plan our own future we lose control of our own direction.”
But as well as looking at what is facing the industry, challenging your future is also looking at what individual farmers can do to challenge themselves.
“So it’s the perfect opportunity for all farmers to take some time out, assess what we’re doing well, where there’s room for improvement and what we need to do next. And as well as stimulating the brain, farmers tell us it’s a great chance to chat with people and have a good time.”
“We’re also looking forward to having the event at Lincoln, something that will help the Christchurch area economically,” Mr Mackle added.
As always, SIDE has secured top speakers, this year including All Blacks coach Graham Henry talking about high performance leadership and Finance Minister Bill English on the importance of dairying to the New Zealand economy. Other keynote speakers address sustainability, climate change, and world macroeconomic conditions and trends, while a panel discussion looks at how South Island dairy growth can be sustainably managed.
SIDE Workshops have traditionally been popular, but new this year are some with a longer format and extended presentations prior to open discussion. Thirty-one topics across five workshop sessions over three days range from career progression to employment law and understanding financial statements, to wet weather management and OAD milking and low cost grazing systems.
Information presented at Business SIDE 2011 is pitched at owners, sharemilkers and equity partners looking to improve the governance, strategy and risk management of their businesses.
More than 400 registrations have already been received for this year’s event, and organisers are encouraging farmers to register promptly and avoid disappointment, as venue capacity will limit numbers.
SIDE 2011 is on 27-29 June 2011 at Lincoln University, Christchurch.
Full registration is $290 (including GST) with a discounted rate of $265 if more than one registration is received at the same time from the same farm. Business SIDE is an additional $100 with a full registration.
A copy of the programme and registration form can be downloaded from http://www.side.org.nz