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Dairying women prepare to challenge their boundaries

29 November 2012

Dairying women prepare to challenge their boundaries at annual conference

Hundreds of women who work in the dairy industry will be tackling some of the big issues that affect today’s farmers including the rural/urban divide, environmental constraints and developing future leaders, when they get together at the Dairy Women Network’s annual conference in March 2013.

The line-up of high calibre keynote speakers includes Olympic rowing gold medal winner Mahe Drysdale.

The two-day conference at Nelson’s Rutherford Hotel, starting on 20 March 2013, is themed ‘Taking down the boundary fences’.

Chief executive Sarah Speight said the conference programme was largely dedicated to inspiring and encouraging dairy women to look outside the boundaries of their farms with topics covering many of the challenges and opportunities faced by dairy women.

She added that it was also a great opportunity to take time out from the farm and connect with other dairy women and rural professionals.

“The dairy industry is constantly changing and under scrutiny from people outside the rural sector. As dairying women we can foster the understanding between our rural and urban colleagues that we want to and can look after the land, our animals and our people, while having sustainable businesses.”
The first of three distinctive key note speakers, Hinerangi Edwards kicks off the conference speaking about the diversity of New Zealand’s dairy industry.
A trustee of Taranaki-based charitable trust Parininihi Ki Waitotara (PKW ) Incorporated whose farming enterprise, PKW Farms Ltd, produces more than 2.3 million kilograms of milk solids per year, Hinerangi will share her goals for creating a positive future for all New Zealanders that is linked through the connection to, custodianship of and shared love for the land.
Hinerangi is followed King Country tourism operator Dan Steele who injects his passion and humour into a subject that must be taken seriously – the environment.

“Combining his passions for farming, tourism and conservation, Dan is on a mission to make New Zealand a better place for the future. Dan believes having farmers and conservationists working together to achieve this goal will ensure we all have productive and sustainable farms to live and work on in the future,” said Mrs Speight.

Eight workshops across the two-day conference will include topics ranging from profitable nutrition and cow behaviour to time management strategies and leadership mentoring.

“The leadership panel discussion features women such as Robyn Clements and Barbara Kuriger sharing the challenges they’ve faced to go beyond their farming boundaries and become leaders in their communities. Whether you have a grassroots or governance position or are yet to take your first steps into leadership, they’ll help delegates understand where they are on the leadership journey and what the next steps could be,” explained Mrs Speight.

Draw-card speaker Mahe Drysdale will close the conference taking about how dairy farming can be just as demanding as chasing an Olympic dream.

“Being prepared, working hard and dealing with setbacks, there will always be tough times and things you don’t like doing, but overall it’s a pretty awesome existence,” said Mrs Speight.

The Network also confirmed it had a new industry partner and conference sponsor, farm nutrient management specialist Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

“Ballance Agri-Nutrients is a leading company that shares many of our organisational values. We’re very grateful for their support and this tremendous opportunity to work together.”

Ballance General Manager of Agro-Science and Marketing, Liz Muller, says that the co-operative recognises one of the biggest issues facing dairy farmers is learning how to manage within nutrient loss limits.

“Women are key decision makers in the rural sector and will have a leading role in managing the changes required as new regulations impact how New Zealanders can farm. We bring our expertise on managing nutrients on farm to this partnership with the Dairy Women’s Network and provide farmers with viable options for working through these challenging times and for their continued success.”

The second ‘Dairy Woman of the Year’ award winner will be announced at the conference gala dinner. The winner will be awarded a position on the prestigious Women in Leadership 12 month course run by Global Women, which is valued at $25,000. The award is sponsored by Fonterra Milk Supply and nominations are currently being sought.

Registrations for the conference are now open and all women who work in the dairying industry can register at


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