Amid an emotional and turbulent end to the season for dairy farmers, optimism for the industry’s future was still being celebrated.
Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE National Centre for Dairy Education, in partnership with Murray Dairy and the Young Dairy Network, celebrated the passion and commitment of young people and their efforts in helping secure the future of the dairy industry with a dinner and presentation on May 17 at the Goulburn Valley Hotel in Shepparton.
Graduating students were recognised at the event and the Stepping Stones Program, which provides career pathways into the industry, was acknowledged.
GOTAFE Student of the Year and Certificate III Trainee of the Year went to 22-year-old dairy farmer Kyle Fleming from Tongala.
After finishing secondary school in Melbourne and starting a plumbing apprenticeship, Mr Fleming moved back to the region with his family and undertook a Certificate III in Agriculture.
For the past three months, Mr Fleming has practically been running the day-to-day operation on a dairy farm, purchased by his parents, with 190 cattle.
‘‘I like working with the cows through the seasons. There’s always something different going on,’’ Mr Fleming said.
Mr Fleming hoped to take over the farm by the end of next year and with his mother working in aged care in Melbourne and his father working as a paramedic in Kyabram, he will run the farm predominantly on his own, with some support from his parents.
The recent milk price drops have not deterred Mr Fleming from pursuing a career in dairying.
‘‘It’s a challenge for everyone but we will get through it,’’ he said.
Cohuna dairy farmer Jade Southern received the award for Advanced Diploma of Agriculture Student of the Year.
‘‘I’ve been in the industry 20 years. When I left school I had a desire to go down that line,’’ Mr Southern said.
Since then, his passion for dairy farming has grown, although he admitted it was being tested by the news of the price cuts.
‘‘It’s all strategy. We won’t know what we can afford until next season’s price is announced.’’
Mr Southern and his wife Brooke have been sharefarming for 12 years and all four of their young daughters love the farm.
GOTAFE NCDE Certificate III and IV co-ordinator James Goulding said formal studies were important for dairy farmers of all ages who wanted to develop in the industry.
‘‘Dairy farming is no longer just a job for the outdoors - they need management skills,’’ Mr Goulding said.
He said further studies were essential to the agriculture industry, and studying a certificate built the confidence of aspiring dairy farmers by teaching them about best industry practice.
Dairy Australia managing director Ian Halliday presented the awards at the event and encouraged young farmers to remain positive and persist with the dairy industry because it needed a viable and profitable future.