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Dairy Farmers Front Up To Labour Issues

For Immediate Release

30 April 2004

Dairy Farmers Front Up To Labour Issues

More than 180 dairy farmers attending meetings around the country recognise there are issues affecting career satisfaction within the dairy industry.

ATR Solutions held the 13 meetings during February, March and April to gauge dairy farmer opinion on factors affecting labour recruitment and retention on farms.

Director Shaun Wilson says the meetings, funded by Dairy InSight, are part of an initiative to improve dairy farming employment practices and sought farmer feedback in three key areas:

* The factors affecting labour on farms
* Possible solutions
* Whether employment guidelines could be of assistance.

"The meetings clearly acknowledged a range of issues that influence people's satisfaction with a career in the dairy industry. They also demonstrated that most farmers are not only aware of the issues, but they are also prepared to do something about them."

Mr Wilson says some of the issues identified include hours of work and accommodation.

"We are preparing a report of what farmers had to say at these meetings and will be making it available to all who attended, as well as those in the industry who are interested in improving the career structure in the dairy industry."

He says a range of industry organisations, such as Dairy InSight, AgITO, Federated Farmers and Dexcel, will be invited to attend an industry forum being planned for June to discuss the feedback received at the meetings.

"The information we provide may give these organisations some valuable insights to assist in the way they structure their activities involving people and labour on dairy farms.

"The challenge will be how the industry might assist - without exposing both employers and employees to more paperwork that would deflect from their primary role of producing milk from grass."

Mr Wilson says the initiative - called the Employment Documentation Programme - was developed to encourage farmers to more readily adopt employment management tools such as employment appraisals and job descriptions.


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