WestVic Dairy is run by a Board of Directors. The Board is made up of five farmers and two industry service providers who meet monthly. The role of the Board is to ensure that the levies collected from the region's dairy farmers are directed to relevant research and development and that the findings are communicated to all dairy farmers to increase the profitability and sustainability of the regions dairy industry.
John Dalton - Chairman
John Dalton’s interest in training goes back to his time as an ambulance officer and continues today in his new role as a WestVic Dairy board member.
John spent 11 years with the Rural Ambulance Service in Ballarat and Warrnambool before returning to the family farm at Naringal in the early 1990s. "The last five years in the ambulance service I was in training. I’ve always had an interest in that field,” he said.
John’s willingness to share his knowledge extended to the dairying sector. His farm was used as a Focus Farm during the 1990s and more recently he became involved in the development of the Education Advisory Committee and the regional Extension Education Committee.
After three years in those roles John has now progressed to a fully-fledged board member and again education is on his priority list.
“By being involved in those committees I became more aware of what the WestVic board was about,” he said.
John’s farm has grown to 750 acres and is milking 600 cows. Married with two teenage daughters, John describes the farming operation as a “team”.
“We have three full-time employees in the team. We all work together as a team to get the best results.”
And now he hopes that sense of teamwork can pay dividends on the WestVic board too.
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Lisa Dwyer - Vice Chairman
In only a few short years Lisa Dwyer has really embraced the dairy industry.
Lisa came to the industry from a background in private enterprise where she took on a senior role as region services manager for Racing Victoria which covers 19 clubs from Geelong to the South Australian border.
Lisa got her first taste of dairy in 2004 when she and husband Eddie purchased a 382 acre farm between Hawkesdale and Macarthur. They now milk 260 cows and the land is supplemented by a 465-acre run-off, fodder and beef property. “It’s a good little spot,” Lisa says of their farm. “It’s quite an emerging dairy area.”
As the Dwyers grew their farming operation, Lisa was required to step back from her Racing Victoria role. She has been working full-time on the farm for the past three years.
As someone who confesses “I always need a new challenge” Lisa was quick to become actively involved in the industry. She has taken on numerous roles including the VFF Market Security Committee, the Macarthur UDV, the Broadwater CFA and the Animal Welfare Science Centre Advisory Committee.
Now as a member of the WestVic Dairy Board, Lisa hopes to contribute a fresh perspective. “I’d like to approach it with a broader attitude using my skills and experience from working in the private sector to hopefully make a worthwhile contribution,” she said.
“I’m relatively young as dairy farmers go and relatively new to the industry so I don’t come in with any fixed ideas.”
Lisa said her main priority on the Board was to ensure the farmers’ service levy is well invested and that it is used to meet the needs of the region’s farmers. She also hopes to pursue her special area of interest in animal welfare.
Lisa was born and raised in Mortlake while Eddie comes from a dairy farming background.
Email Lisa: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Byrd brings an international perspective to the WestVic Dairy Board.
David moved to Australia from England in 2007 and purchased his farm at Byaduk in 2008 but his links to dairying go back through the generations. “I was born and bred on a dairy farm and both parents and my maternal and paternal grandparents were also off dairy farms,” he said. It was no surprise that David would follow in their footsteps. What might be a bit surprising is how enthusiastically he has embraced the industry.
David’s interest in supporting the industry beyond the farm gate goes back to his early days of working on his parents’ farm in Cheshire. He became the chairman of the local Young Farmers branch, National Farmers Union Milk Committee and the Grassland society.David is a holder of a Nuffield Scholarship which he obtained in 2000. He travelled to Australia as part of his study for the scholarship which gave him a taste for `down under’. He also obtained his High National Diploma in Agriculture from the Harper Adams University and has a Bachelor of Science Degree.
After moving to the south-west region, David found value in the publications and meetings run by WestVic Dairy and since establishing his farm (converting the land from a beef and sheep operation) at Byaduk, David is keen to again become involved in the management side of the industry. “We have a lot of the same issues to address in Australia as in England,” he said. These include attracting and retaining good staff, managing effluent and conservation management.”
“I’d like to be able to contribute and provide a different point of view.”
David is confident of the future of dairying in Australia and is appreciating the virtues of farming in this country. “It is easier to manage larger herds in Australia. I think the cows are healthier and have less feet problems and we don’t have to worry about slurry management and moving our cattle to sheds. There is less bureaucracy here than in the U.K., which is another positive.”
Having endured the devastating foot and mouth outbreak of the 1960s in the U.K. and then a similar outbreak about three decades later, David is keen to promote health and wellbeing in the industry.
He lives at his Weaver Park farm with his wife Sandra and daughters Chloe and Alice.
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Matt Reid moved with his family from the Goulburn Valley in 2003 to take up farming at Carlisle River.
With the benefit of hindsight he feels very fortunate to have made the move and is relishing the new challenges.
“Our property at Rochester was landlocked and fully developed so the challenge of expansion just wasn’t there. Water supply was also becoming an issue.”
With his parents and wife Allison, Matt moved south and now runs a 240ha dairying property milking 425 cows.
Despite a setback with the loss of his father in 2005, Matt remains keen to expand and in 2008 purchased a neighbouring support block.
“Losing my father was a set back but he had given us the skills to make a go of it.”
After being raised on the farm, Matt learnt a trade as a boilermaker but returned to the family property at Rochester in 2000 and has now fully embraced the industry. “I have a real passion to see the industry grow. I want to see a prosperous industry, which is what prompted me to nominate for the WestVic Dairy Board,” he said. “I see huge scope for growth in Western because of the excellent conditions for dairying. “While there is still demand for quality food there will be success for the industry.
For his role on the WestVic Dairy Board, Matt plans to adopt a cautious approach.
“I’m still relatively new to the area so I need to get in and learn the ropes and take it from there,” he said.
Matt and Alison have three children, Elijah, Angus and Rilee.
Email Matt: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Parkinson believes people entering the dairy industry today will emulate the current crop of tradies in finding lucrative and successful careers. “Fifteen or 20 years ago there was a shortage of trades guys. Now the guys who took up a trade back then are in real demand and charging top dollar,” he said.
“Dairy farming is going through the same sort of phase and I think those who move into the industry now will be well rewarded in the future.”
It is that type of positive outlook that David hopes to bring to the WestVic Dairy Board and in turn the broader community. As a new Board member David aims to better promote the industry for its contribution to the Western Victorian economy and as a good place to work. “I believe the potential for growth of dairying in the Western District of dairying is enormous. Dairy is already responsible for one-third of the region’s economy; imagine the impact we could have if we could triple our production which I believe is feasible.”
“We need to lift the profile of dairy which is a bit like a sleeping industry at the moment. We should encourage financial institutions to see dairy as a worthwhile industry in which to invest.” David, who “came up through the ranks” on his parents’ dairy farm near Warrnambool, is also keen to promote the industry as a good place to work.
David and his wife Shirley have farmed their 3000-acre Toolong property since 1980, raising five boys over that time. Two of their sons, Vincent and Xavier, have returned to work on the farm. “They were given the opportunity,” he said. “I encouraged them but it was their choice to farm or not. They both have university educations so it is good that we can get good, experienced people into the industry,” he added.
“Worldwide there is a lack of expertise coming through in farming so it is a good industry to get into. There is a good future in dairy farming.”
David has also set Occupational Health and Safety and disease control as issues for the Board to address.
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In 1986 Tom Walsh came to Timboon for six months...and never left.
Tom had completed his veterinary studies at the University of Sydney and after an 18-month stint at Moree in New South Wales joined the Vet Group Timboon for an initial six-month contract. “I came here for six months but the opportunities became apparent so I stayed. The dairy industry offers vets the capability to work very closely with farmers and their animals,” he said.
“There’s nothing better than working in the dairy industry – the people are second to none.”
Tom has special interest in farm business management, dairy cow nutrition and pasture management. He is an accredited Topfodder silage trainer and an accredited In Calf advisor. He has been a member of the Regional Extension Committee since its inception and recently became chairman of the south-west Future Ready Dairy Systems reference committee.
Tom’s election to the WestVic Dairy Board in 2010 is a continuation of this commitment to the industry. “I think it is important for me to give something back to the industry which has given so much to me.” He was also keen to see service providers represented on the Board. “The Down the Track study highlighted how critical service providers are to the industry so it is important that they have representation in decision making and WestVic is the peak decision making body for the region.”
The appropriate use and investment of the farmers’ service levy is Tom’s main priority. Attention to developing good quality people to work in the industry is high on his agenda. “People are our primary asset and we need to be providing work places that are fun, rewarding and fulfilling.”
“It is a challenge but it is an attainable goal.”
Ongoing attention to natural resource management and helping farmers with information about issues such as an emissions trading scheme are also among his priorities.
Tom, who lives at Timboon with his wife Judy and teenage children Darcy and Toby, said he would work to keep farmers informed of all their options to progress their businesses.
Email Tom: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leighton Hart came to dairy farming from a background of teaching.
Leighton and his wife Karen were school teachers in New Zealand before deciding dairy farming would make a better lifestyle for raising a family.
The Harts moved to Australia in 2003 and entered into a share-farming agreement with Karen’s parents, Terry and Janice Richardson, at Dean’s Marsh.
The move has been a success and they now milk 360 crossed Jersey, Holstein and Scandinavian Red cows on a 160ha farm and Leighton has become an active contributor to the dairy industry.
Leighton, 35, was elected to the Board of WestVic Dairy in August 2012 and hopes to offer a voice for young farmers.
He says he is keen to explore ways that the Dairy Services Levy can be used not only to encourage young people into the industry but also to retain them.
“Over my time in dairy I have seen a lot of people in their 20s exit the industry because they can’t see a pathway or think it’s a bridge too far to owning a property,” he said.
“I hope to contribute a voice for all dairy farmers but particularly young farmers and to help them to find rewarding career paths.”
“Like all industries in a tough global economy, dairying is entering unknown territory but there are still plenty of rewarding career opportunities,” Leighton said. It is a case of taking advantage of opportunities as they arise,” Leighton said.
“We’ve got to show there is more appeal in the dairy industry,” he said.
Leighton is encouraging farm owners to promote the need for education and is doing his own up-skilling by undertaking his Diploma of Agriculture which includes recognition of prior learning.
He has also employed a young dairy apprentice on the farm as a direct result of WestVic Dairy’s In2Dairy program and has encouraged him to pursue a Certificate III in Agriculture.
“There are a lot of young people coming into the industry...the next step is to sustain their interest and help them to progress,” he said.
Leighton and Karen won the Share Farmer of the Year award at the 2012 Great South West Dairy Awards. They have three children, Lochlan, 8, Maggie, 6, and Lucas, 3.
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Paul Clarke was raised on a dairy farm near Garvoc and although he adopted accounting as his profession most of his work remains centred on the dairy industry. Paul has 25 years experience in the accounting field and ran his own business before joining WHK in November 2011.as a Senior Manager of Accounting and Business.
Paul was elected to the board of Westvic dairy in August 2012. He hopes his new role will help him gain a wider knowledge of dairying while providing him with an opportunity to further contribute to the industry.
“The board has a wide range of experience and knowledge and hopefully I can play a contributing role in the near future. I have a passion for working alongside others with a similar interest.
Helping farmers to find the right work-lifestyle balance and encouraging more investment in the dairy industry are key priorities for Paul.
“There is a need to encourage young people and investors in seeing the benefit of investing in the industry and along with the assistance of established farmers this can play a significant role towards achieving rotational succession planning,” he said.
Paul enjoys fishing and golf in his spare time and is married to Glenda with two children Emma and Reece.
Email Paul: Paul.Clarke@whk.com.au