Projects 2009-2010

Project Description Status Region
Focus Farms

12-15 farmers meet in a group to see progress on a Focus Farm and improve business performance. A facilitator brings together a group which meets 10 times over three years. Farmers self-assess their natural resource management practices. 230 farmers have been involved in the project to date. The project aims to improve farm profitability and natural resource management; and to bring Catchment Management Authority grants into the dairy industry.

Heathmere, Nullawarre, Macarthur, Bungador, Barwon Downs, Grassmere and Naringal
Soil Acidity 1 & 2

80 farmers are being funded to take soil tests and receive advice on better ways to manage nutrients. The project aims to improve farm profitability and nutrient management whilst creating links between farmers and independent nutrient specialists. Farmers from the Focus Farm networks are being targeted to take part and invited to train and be rewarded with the $1000 grant. The project is being facilitated by WVD and funded through Federal Government – Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority (GHCMA).

Western Victoria

Researchers are finding out the nutrient value of sludge, how long it lasts, how long the value lasts when spread on paddocks and the economics of using it to save fertilizer. Farmers have not had reliable sludge nutrient figures to build their nutrient budgets. This work will help farmers produce milk more cheaply. Samples are being collected from 1st ponds and tested for nutrient content. Sludge is being applied at different rates on two farms in Western Victoria. An economist s calculating the value of the sludge and is providing a cost-benefit analysis to assist farmers to reduce input costs. The trial is being carried out by researchers at DPI Victoria.

Terang and Naringal

Trials are being conducted to find ways to grow more feed/Ha using new crop combinations. Results are then field trialed and costed to make them of use to farmers. The use of crops such as Millet and Plantain are alleged to offer new ways to produce more milk/Ha. 30:30 is trying to find a way to reducing feed costs by growing more feed/Ha. Trials are being conducted across Victoria and South Australia and then being field trialed on commercial farms. Results are being analyses by economists to offer farm usable cost-benefits and then distributed to farmers through field days, discussion groups, brochures and web sites. The trials are being conducted by Melbourne University, DPI Victoria and private consultants.

Terang, Flurieu Peninsula and North East Victoria
Dairy Directions (Modeling)

Dairy Business analysts and a farmer steering group are developing highly in-depth financial analyses and forecasts of future options for a “typical” Western Victorian dairy farm. Farmers are unable to afford highly detailed (e.g. $50k) analyses of future options for their business. This work will help farmers understand the wealth implications of future business development options. A farmer steering group was established in late 2008 and they described a “typical” farm in Western Victoria. The researchers found an agreed typical farm, collected the financial and physical data from it and produced a full set of accounts for the farm over the last five years. The steering committee scoped six development options from the typical farm and modeled wealth impacts to owners of those six options 10 years out. Analysts from DPI Victoria, consultants and farmers in Western Victoria are responsible for the study.

Western Victoria
Fertiliser Seller Workshops

A workshop has been help by WestVic Dairy to update agronomists with the most research information on fertilizer. The Soil Acidity team presented the research to 100 invited advisors to ensure advice being given to farmers is based on current, relevant information.

Western Victoria
Cow Fertility

A workshop to bring together all the current work on Cow Fertility and related issues to attract more resources to this farmer priority. Much work is being done centrally (at Dairy Australia) in the In Calf project to improve cattle fertility but locally farmers have been asking for more help to get their farms’ in-calf rates up. A workshop has been convened to help farmers understand the current challenges and solutions being considered to improve this profit result on some of our farms in Western Victoria. WVD have worked with the In Calf, local vets and the Dairy Futures teams to develop a program of information to help the region’s farmers better manage cow fertility performance. The work also includes putting forward the case for greater investment in this key area. The work is being carried out by the In Calf team, local vets, the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre, ADHIS and WVD.

Western Victoria
Cows Create Careers

Seventeen schools are rearing local farmers’ calves for three weeks, conducting class room work around the dairy industry and completing a project on the experience. A local farmer provides two calves to the school. The students prepare calf-rearing pens, and with advice from the farmer, care for and measure the growth of the calves for three weeks. Through the associated curriculum work, and with the support of a dairy industry mentor, the students explore a particular facet of the industry and gain insight into the available career options. The project aims to raise school community understanding about the dairy industry and start kids thinking about a career in dairy. WVD Careers Coordinator manages the project in Western Victoria

In2Dairy-Assistant Farm Hand Training

A process is being developed to bring job placement training and other services to a team to help job seekers test and commence a career on dairy farms. Dairy Australia and WVD are funded by VictoriaWorks to develop a pathway for the unemployed to move from Centrelink and Job Services Australia to work on farms. A partnership with WestVic Staffing Solutions (WSS), NCDEA and Melbourne University has piloted and developed recruitment/training/work placement support process that could be trailed elsewhere in Australia. The project aims to improve the attraction and retention of staff to the dairy industry – a key priority for the region’s farmers.

Western Victoria
Young Dairy Development Program (YDDP)

A coordinator is helping to organize four YDDP groups in Western Victoria that meet at least five times a year. Over 300 people have been involved in YDDP events. Having groups of young people attached to the dairy industry helps to build our leaders for the future and strengthen their support for and loyalty to the dairy industry. The industry funds a coordinator to help four local committees in Colac Otway, Corangamite, Warrnambool and Glenelg to bring young people together at specific dairy events.

Western Victoria
In Charge Financial Literacy

A series of workshops has been designed and delivered to 36 dairy farming women and a research project undertaken to understand how dairy couples exchange information to make decisions on the farm. If programs can further improve the business and financial management capacity of our farmers we are more likely to make the best returns possible on the region’s farms.

Macarthur, Simpson and Terang
Growing the Next Wave Rural Leadership

A series of four leadership programs and a communication plan is being delivered in Western Victoria to improve the leadership capacity of agribusiness staff (farmers and service providers). Leadership is a key asset for an organization, an industry and a region. It helps to organize a community’s efforts to attract resources and achieve beneficial results. WVD on behalf of agriculture and agribusiness in Western Victoria has co0funded a program with Regional Development Victoria to provide four different leadership programs to different age groups across Western Victoria. A three hour program to introduce leadership, a five hour program to help participants lead and run groups, a four day leadership program based on emergency services work and leadership styles and a five day Directors’ course.

Colac, Hamilton, Warrnambool, Portland and Cobden.
Knowledge Management

A researcher is conducting data on the dairy industry to develop a regional dairy industry report that contains all the statistics available for dairy in Western Victoria. A WVD intern student at Deakin University has read over 30 reports and collected and edited the research into a report that describes the dairy industry in Western Victoria. The work has been supervised by staff at WVD and an edit is being conducted by Dairy Australia. The dairy industry in Western Victoria does not have a single place to find data about itself and this makes researching trends and using data to support policy development costly and time consuming. This report will increase efficiency and could attract more resources to our industry.

Western Victoria & Melbourne
Small Business Victoria Workshops

A new project to offer courses on business improvement to farmers and other small businesses – supplied by Small Business Victoria. Small Business Victoria has long delivered such short courses to other industry sectors. WVD put the case that the farm businesses should be able to directly access such skills training.

Western Victoria
Dairy Awards

A competition is held annually to find the region’s best Employers, Employees, share-farmers, Natural Resource Managers, Young Leaders and dairy photographs. The Awards are presented at a Gala Night in April each year. The awards promote best practice amongst farmers and service providers and raise the reputation of dairy in the community.

Western Victoria
Driving Down the Track (DDTT Stage 1 & 2)

DDTT is a 24 month, two stage project to broker the development and implementation of a set of 10 actions to grow the dairy industry in Western Victoria. The project is attracting funds and support from other providers. The industry has a direction and a plan to grow – DDTT is attracting widespread support from governments (Local, State and Federal), bringing new money and other resources into our industry.

Western Victoria
Influencing Regional Plans

WVD Staff provide advice to government which helps to include the needs of dairy in their investment plans. Water, Economic and Transport Plans etc. have been informed by dairy. Regional Strategic Plans are the menu from which governments select projects to invest taxpayers’ money into regional development. This work can help attract funds to our industry that might have gone elsewhere.

Western Victoria
Attracting New Capital

WVD is leading discussions between State Government, processors and the financial sector in the region to support a proposal for state funds to attract new dairy investors to the region. Down the Track has identified the potential to expand the industry in our region and this project is one piece of work that will assist the milk volumes to increase.

Western Victoria & Melbourne
South West Climate Change Forum (SWCCF) The Forum collects and distributes Climate Change information and tools to farmers and fisherman in Western Victoria. The agricultural industries in Western Victoria (Fishing, Farming & Forestry) attract resources to contract staff to collect, sift and sometimes rewrite information for use for primary producers. This information is distributed through media, newsletters and is posted on the SWCCF website. The work is delivered mainly by contractors and a support team at WVD. Western Victoria
Water Strategy

WVD has supported the region’s farmers to comment on some parts of the Western Regional Water Strategy (WRWS). The UDV/VFF requested support to collect and record farmer opinions on the water strategy. The project also supported farms to understand the strategy and comment on it. The UDV/VFF believes the WRWS could make it harder for farmers to access wash-down water in the future.

Milk from Moisture

A specialist pilot workshop called “Milk from Moisture” was designed and delivered to dairy farmers in Colac. Making the most of new weather technologies and information to manage farms is a way of improving risk management and increasing profitability. This project was funded by the Federal Government and was used to pilot some new ways to manage variable weather and improve on-farm decision making.

Year of the Farmer

A 13 point plan is in place to better collect and communicate farmer priorities. The plan includes Kitchen Forums, articles and phone contact with region’s farmers. WVD invests farmers’ levy based on the priorities they ask for – in 2010 the Board upgraded the method of collection of these priorities to YOTF.

Western Victoria
UDV Assistance

WVD collects and provides information to assist UDV on a number of fronts and in 2009/10 has helped with licensing of water for wash-through and commented on the Western Victorian Water Strategy. The availability of water to provide cleaning services to dairy plant is critical to producing healthy milk. Government strategies and legislation that could restrict that availability should be well formed with the correct information. Staff from WVD assists the UDV to collect and distribute information to stakeholders.

Western Victoria
Sustainable Farming Families Assistance

WVD provides a member to sit on the Sustainable Farm Families Steering Committee on behalf of the dairy industry. A member of WVD sits on the quarterly steering committee meetings (in Melbourne) and helps guide decisions by the project management team to ensure that farmer health and well-being programs are accessible, appropriate and relevant to dairy industry families.

Communications – Newsletter

Every month the industry produces a newsletter that is distributed to all dairy farmers and service providers in Western Victoria. Articles are developed and contributed by reliable sources o make up the newsletter which is edited by WVD. The newsletter is distributed to 2000 farmers via the milk statements, 300 are mailed out by WV and 600 are distributed by email. The newsletter is produced to distribute information to help farmers and their service providers improve their business performance and increase profitability. WVD and DPI Victoria develop and source

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