Australian dairy farmers are recognising that effective planning is key to their long-term success and turning in increasing numbers to Dairy Australia's Our Farm, Our Plan program for support in setting a game plan with clear and achievable goals.
The Our Farm, Our Plan program was developed by Dairy Australia in conjunction with the Gardiner Foundation and DairyNZ to provide assistance to Australian dairy farmers in identifying long-term goals, improving business performance and managing volatility.
The program is offered to farmers at no cost as one of the many services delivered by Dairy Australia through the investment of dairy levy funding and is also supported through the Australian government's Future Drought Fund.
It aims to help enhance farm business management by providing farmers with access to business planning and risk management tools, as well as offering insights to support on-farm decision making and improve profitability.
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Since its launch in 2020, the program has already helped more than 400 dairy farmers across Australia by providing them 24-months of access to advice from experienced dairy experts.
It has also equipped them with a range of useful tools such as the Farm Fitness Checklist, a self-assessment tool for farmers.
In 2021, Dairy Australia worked with more than 260 farmers from 180 farm businesses around Australia to formulate their Plan on a Page through Our Farm, Our Plan workshops and one-to-one follow up with experienced facilitators.
The feedback from participating farmers has been very positive, with them rating the overall value of the program at an average of 9.2 out of 10.
Scott and Jade Tout from Yarram in Southeast Gippsland are two dairy farmers who have signed up for Our Farm, Our Plan and they have already started to see the benefits.
The Touts have been share farming near Yarram for the past three years and currently milk 290 head.
After increasing their ownership of the herd over the past few years, the demands of juggling farmwork, raising two young boys, and unexpected challenges such as flooding and feed shortages led them to identify the need for help.
Mr Tout was initially hesitant to participate in Our Farm, Our Plan, but Mrs Tout could see the value of developing a written plan for their farm and signed them up.
The program in their region was facilitated by the GippsDairy team and experienced local consultant Matt Harms.
Due to COVID-19, the Touts participated in an online group with other dairy farmers from across Gippsland.
The online format worked well for the Touts, as they didn't need to leave the farm to participate and it only took up an hour or two a week.
Being spread over six weeks it also allowed them to talk through each module between sessions and opened up the way they communicated as a family.
Having Mr Harms connect with them one-on-one also helped them to make a customised plan for their farm which was clear, realistic and achievable.
For the Touts, the program was instrumental in uncovering several key areas they wanted to focus on, such as farm safety as well as people and labour.
Rather than feeling overwhelmed, they became more conscious of what they could control and what they could concentrate on to make a difference.
With Mr Harms's expert support, they developed a plan for the farm of which they had strong ownership.
Despite his initial hesitancy, Mr Tout is now an enthusiastic advocate for the Our Farm, Our Plan program.
"It helps you to consolidate and gets you talking," he said.
"The tools such as the Farm Fitness Checklist help you get your ideas from A to B and to narrow your goals to an achievable plan."
To find out more about how Our Farm, Our Plan can help, visit dairyaustralia.com.au/OFOP or call Dairy Australia on 1 800 548 073.