The Alpine Valleys Dairy Pathways Project has supported students of the Tallangatta Secondary College in their agricultural studies.
The project, which has a long term vision to provide support to facilitate milk growth from 220 million litres to 400 million litres by 2025, assisted the school to attract funding from the North East Catchment Management Authority and Murray Dairy.
Students and teachers visited a new dairy shed and the AgriBio labs in Bundoora, and were exposed to new dairy technologies and equipment and modern farming practices.
They were also engaged by enthusiastic PhD students from the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre and a range of young agricultural service providers such as agronomists, extension officers and agricultural scientists.
The Alpine Valleys project had identified the need to reinvigorate agricultural education and found that Tallangatta was one school that still offered agricultural courses and was well positioned geographically.
The project is also involved in the Alpine Valleys Dairy Succession project to address family succession and dairy business transition.
All 183 dairy farm owners in the region were sent a copy of a survey designed to describe their current status with succession/transition planning and 83 responses were received.
The key responses from farm owners were:
· 80 per cent see continued operation in dairy for the next five years.
· 53 per cent know what they would like to see happen with succession/transition.
· 59 per cent have started the discussion with their family.
· 50 per cent have discussed their plans with professional advisers.
· 24 per cent have documented and shared their plans.
· 36 per cent have requested direct support with planning for transition.
The project noted that in the Upper Murray two farms installed new milking plants into existing sheds.
In both cases, these 200 cow farms are supporting ‘next generation’ farmers with young children who have made a long-term commitment to dairy farming.
In the Kiewa Valley, there have been two new 54-unit rotary dairy sheds built on 400 cow farms.
In the Upper Murray, the Nankervis family started building a 60 unit rotary in October 2015.
Peter and Barbara Nankervis and their children Alex, Jane and Will have been developing farm transition plans over the past six years.
The property previously produced peppermint oil and beef, however a desire of the children to return to the family farm saw them investigate other enterprises that would support the next generation.
The Nankervis family plan to start milking in early 2016 with a herd of around 400 cows, while the dairy has been designed to efficiently manage 700 cows.
There have also been two other ‘beef to dairy’ conversions near Yackandandah and Wangaratta.