Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed an innovative programme lifting the performance of 350 Northland farmers through shared knowledge.
“The first year of the Extension 350 programme will see the start of two dairy clusters and one sheep and beef cluster. Each cluster consists of five top performing ‘mentor farmers’ extending their knowledge, advice and direction to a group of five target farmers,” says Mr Guy.
“These target farmers then interact and influence a surrounding group of five associated farmers, extending the benefits of top performing farm practice from the original target farmer. The farm clusters are supported with farm consultants and other service providers.
“The programme is a priority within the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan launched earlier this year, and plans to have 350 farmers involved in four years,” says Mr Guy.
Mr Guy praised the programme at a function on Alister and Lyn Candy’s Okaihau farm. The Minister was on a tour of Northland with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to celebrate progress of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan (Action Plan).
“Alister and Lyn have a proven track record of reducing costs and driving efficiencies within their business. With the help of a management team of local farmers, the Candys revolutionised their dairy farming business from 2011 to 2013.
“This has increased their profitability by around $180,000 per year and kept their farm costs operating under $4.00 per kg of milk solids, helping cushion them from global milk price fluctuations,” says Mr Guy.
The Candy Farm was a Northland Dairy Focus Farm jointly run through the Northland Dairy Development Trust and DairyNZ. Lessons learnt from the farm have helped inform the design of the Extension 350 programme.
“Extension 350 is a classic grassroots example of kiwi farmers banding together to help lift each other’s farm performance and contribute to lifting the nation’s export capability,” said Mr Guy.
The Extension 350 project is jointly supported by DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb New Zealand, Northland Inc. and MPI.