On Wednesday 22 April the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) in partnership for the first time with leading industry super fund, Prime Super hosted
an annual Business Breakfast, themed Our Industry, Our Future: Generation Dairy.
The breakfast received an enthusiastic response, with over 100 young farmers, processors and dairy service representatives taking the opportunity to discuss
what is working well to support young peoples’ development and growth in dairy, as well as what else need to be done.
Queensland dairy farmer and former Chair of the Australian Dairy Conference 2014, Paul Roderick was the keynote speaker for the breakfast. A fifth generation
dairy farmer, Mr Roderick has been actively involved with a number of industry programs including the Young Dairy Network of Australia and firmly believes
in their worth.
Mr Roderick said that people in dairy need to focus more on ensuring the next generation has the confidence to lead their farm businesses as well as the
processing sector forward.
“What motivates and inspires confidence in people is not always a question of dollars,” he said. “It involves ensuring people in dairy are supported through
investment in up-skilling, building efficiencies into their businesses and new technology.”
Further to this, Mr Roderick said, there was a need to encourage rather than tear down leaders.
“To be a self-confessed ‘leader’ in dairy or any agricultural industry runs the risk of being cut down as a tall poppy. As naturally quite humble people,
dairy farmers can be harsh on people who do speak out. This in turn puts some people off moving into industry roles. But sometimes the right thing
to say or do may not make you popular.”
These sentiments were echoed by ADIC Chair, Noel Campbell who said that leadership is less about management and more about being an agent for change.
“We all have a role to play in leading Australian dairy toward a more sustainable, profitable future.
“The more people who get involved and contribute to important debates, the stronger our voice as a united industry will be,” Mr Campbell said.
A panel of young dairy talent followed Mr Roderick’s presentation. Comprised of Tasmanian dairyfarmer, Nick Dornauf; Victorian farmer and veterinarian,
Stuart Griffin; and Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme extension officer, Sarah Saxton, the panel discussed how the current generation can get
the next generation involved in important representative and service groups.
Stuart Griffin, whose father Chris is Australian Dairy Farmers’ immediate past President, said it all came down to timing.
“As farmers we never want to do anything to the detriment of the farm, and when you consider how much time these roles can occupy, it can make you second
guess it,” Mr Griffin said.
“In truth though, there’s never a wrong time to get involved – it’s about knowing you’re supported and will have guidance along the way.”
On the heels of the event, renewed industry focus has been placed on highlighting the various pathways available to people in dairy, whether stepping up
or stepping back, and getting the current dairying generation to place more trust in their successors – an issue brought to the forefront by Mr Roderick.
“Too often in our industry the older generation struggles to let go of responsibility and put their faith in the next generation. Without a clear plan
of succession…more often than not that lack of faith can lead to the end of a farming business.”
The ADIC will continue to support and promote the continued development and prosperity of young people in dairy by addressing shortfalls in critical resourcing
and funding for services to improve education, safety and wellbeing in the dairying community.