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We’re dairy farmers and we’re ok

14 April 2012

We’re dairy farmers and we’re ok

While United States based CareerCast may have found melancholic American dairy farmers and even more depressed ‘lumberjacks’, the primary industry downunder is upbeat and fizzing.

“We’re dairy farmers and we’re okay,” says a highly positive Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“According to the latest Federated Farmers/Rabobank remuneration survey that’s getting close to release, salary packages for dairy workers recorded small gains. In the current tough economic climate that’s a good shot in the arm.

“What’s more, our increased health and safety culture means hours worked are well down on previous years. You can say we’re starting to work smarter and Federated Farmers is keen to take that message further.

“The difference between the States and New Zealand is that farmers here are New Zealand’s 14th most trusted occupation. It feels good to be in the company of scientists and childcare workers and to be even more trusted than judges.

“American dairy farmers are wrapped up in redtape, with farming regulations and subsidies. They must feel like penpushers than farmers. When they see what we do and the way farming is treated here as a major industry, is it no wonder they feel down in the mouth?

“I don’t wish to rub it in but Fonterra is a major exporter of American milkpowder. If that wasn’t enough, when dairy farmers in the US buy Italian food, there’s a good chance the parmesan has come from a Fonterra joint venture.

“That’s why New Zealand is seen as the Hollywood of farming but given IT was the top of this survey, perhaps the Palo Alto of farming is more apt. New Zealand is the hothouse where go-getters want to farm.

“The only regret I have is that Kiwis don’t understand just how high we’re regarded internationally. That’s why so many immigrants want to farm here. They come from Israel, the Philippines and yes, from America too. Just ask Federated Farmers board member, Anders Crofoot.

“Proving how hot we are as an industry is Wairarapa’s own director come dairy farmer, James Cameron. Dairying is truly an industry with Titanic opportunity,” Mr Leferink concluded.


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