By: Tim Mackle – DairyNZ chief executive

In the last Dairy Exporter, farmer John Milne shares concerns West Coast farmers have had less support from DairyNZ, since the departure of a local consulting officer.

First, we acknowledge the delay in replacing the local consulting officer is unfortunate and regretted.

We have been working hard to find a suitable candidate to replace our former West Coast consulting officer and finding, like dairy farmers, it’s a tough job market out there. We are working urgently to fill this position and looking at how to continue supporting West Coast farmers.

Our Upper South Island regional team has been covering the West Coast and our regional contacts Antoinette Archer, Mark Shadwick and Tony Finch are always happy to chat through any issues you want to discuss.

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to see there’s been a steady flow of activity across the region to support farmers. DairyNZ has hosted or supported 13 West Coast events in the past five months – a solid level of events activity, given the Omicron wave we’ve experienced.

Local events have included discussion groups, drought response meetings, significant SMASH sponsorship, supporting pilot projects within Whataroa, consultation on He Waka Eka Noa and other activities. Over the past season the team has also supported farmers and response teams through flooding response and recovery.

We are committed to continuing and building on that good work on the Coast but also encourage farmers to reach out directly to us, to discuss any queries or concerns they have.

Elsewhere, we continue to work with farmers to make sure their views are heard and understood by the Government on critical issues at national level.

We’ve had some wins with significant changes to winter grazing rules, more international dairy workers allowed into New Zealand, and an alternative and less costly emissions pricing option developed for farmers (He Waka Eke Noa) than going into the ETS.

Farmers have also told us they want our services to be more accessible – so they can use resources when it suits, without leaving the farm. Therefore, we are providing more webinars and podcasts to update farmers on key consultations and topics of interest.

But farming is becoming more complex and we recognise that it’s important to be able to talk through some of the more challenging issues with our team.

Please do reach out to our South Island team directly, we are here to work with all farmers on the Coast – particularly while we appoint a new West Coast based regional partner.

Contact: Antoinette (ph 027 1800 3122), Mark (ph 021 287 7057) and Tony (our head of South Island – ph 027 706 6183).