Fonterra's farmer representative body is building farmer understanding of the processing sector with a unique program.
The Fonterra Australia Suppliers' Council (FASC) is behind the Get to know Fonterra program, which aims to strengthen the relationship between farmer and processor.
The program builds a understanding for Fonterra's farmer suppliers about where their milk goes and provides insight into Fonterra Australia's business.
FASC director and Tasmanian dairy farmer Nigel Brock said the program was about building knowledge and making new connections.
"Most farmers have a broad idea about where their milk goes once it leaves the farmgate," he said.
"Through Get to know Fonterra, they get the chance to understand more intricately the ins and outs of how Fonterra run their business, and what drives their decision-making.
"The added value is connecting farmers with Fonterra's leaders and brands to give them the chance to chat business, but also get to know the people behind Fonterra on a personal level as well."
Recently, 24 farmers joined the program at Fonterra's Richmond, Vic, office where they spent two days hearing from senior leaders, diving into all facets of the business.
Guest speakers from Fonterra Australia covered topics including site operations, supply chain management, sustainability, consumer brands and products, customers and markets.
"Farmers get to appreciate the complexities of how milk is managed once it's taken off farm, where it travels, what products it's directed into, the strategy and the people behind it," Mr Brock said.
Scotts Creek, Vic, dairy farmer Renata Cumming joined the program and said it was a great opportunity to see what was happening behind the scenes to move milk off farm and onto Fonterra's multitude of different customers.
"It was fascinating to see how many different roles there are, that are not only involved, but necessary to make sure the company is efficient, effective and reliable," she said.
"It's brilliant to see how passionate Fonterra are about their respective roles and valuing our hard work in creating quality milk.
"It starts with our passion for the land and our cows, and it flows through the entire company from farmgate to final product."
Fonterra and FASC have a longstanding partnership that's supported by transparent and open dialogue, with the two coming together regularly to discuss issues facing farmers and the industry, and opportunities to improve services and support.
The council represent the interests of all Fonterra suppliers in a unique model not seen elsewhere across the dairy industry.
"We're proud of the relationships we've built with all of our suppliers over many years, and with the support of the Fonterra Australia Suppliers' Council, we're continuing to strengthen them even further," Fonterra Australia farm source director Matt Watt said.
"The council are the drivers behind this program, getting it off the ground less than two years ago, and now seeing increased demand for further sessions.
"It's great to see this level of interest from our suppliers and we take the same value in getting to know our farmers too."
Get to Know Fonterra is offered to all Fonterra suppliers and currently runs once a year over two days at Fonterra's Richmond office.
In addition to providing insight to dairy processing, the program encourages farmers to spend time off farm for social and wellbeing benefits - to meet other farmers and make new connections in the industry.
Accommodation costs are covered for all participants, with travel costs covered for farmers coming from interstate.
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