West Coast dairy farmers are feeling left out by their industry body. By John Milne.

Over time the West Coast has had some fantastic consulting officers (COs), personally I could rattle off six or more over the period I have been farming. Most stuck around for quite a few years and others came here to do their three years, or to cut their teeth after getting out of university.

Either way you want to look at it there was always someone to contact or go along and support. Not only to gain or learn something new but to watch them improve with time.

But they aren’t here anymore, the Coast hasn’t had a CO for about 12 months now. It’s just a sign of the times, I guess you could say, and then there’s the old notion of ‘We can’t get anyone because their partner can’t find work’.

Well I take a slightly different view: user-pays. This is the world we are in now and have been for a while. Last time I looked we are paying handsomely towards DairyNZ’s existence, so where is our service?

Tim’s (Mackle) on TV encouraging people to go dairying. Jim’s (van der Poel) on emails and farming magazines encouraging people to vote or support some activity at any given time, but we aren’t seeing it on the ground supporting our region.

The naysayers will boo hoo this and I understand why DairyNZ was set up, for everybody, to help with industry good. They are still doing that in the background, which they know they have to do by legislation.

So, this month we had a discussion group on the Coast. In their wisdom they are lumping the West Coast into someone else’s lap from another region. Ripple effect, this will soon discourage those COs from different areas to go looking for something else.

So where is the problem? Is DairyNZ still focused on the task at hand? Is DairyNZ getting prepared for the next stage of its existence? E.g: He Waka Eke Noa. Or dare I say it, has Tim and the team run out of drive or lack of vision to look behind as well as ahead. It’s fairly hypocritical to stand in front of the camera and encourage families to go farming when the very entity he’s in charge of can’t serve one of its regions.

The levies/monies DairyNZ get from this region are just as good as what you get from any other region. The Coast is getting back on its feet and it’s great to see. A competitive milk price, farms are selling, young families moving into the Coast again, Young Farmers Clubs getting started up again.

You can’t service the West Coast area from another district. Some say discussion groups have had their day, and to some extent that is true. But that doesn’t stop a bunch of farmers talking about topics relevant to their area, and helping an upcoming CO develop, to further their career for when they move on.

And we have all heard the saying ‘You are never too old to learn something new’.