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CLIENT NEWS: Farmers lent a helping hand

Farmers lent a helping hand

Rural businesses are responding to the plunging dairy payout by offering nearly 30 dairy farming women two-day passes to the Dairy Women's Network annual conference in Hamilton.

Dairy Women's Network chief executive Zelda de Villiers said the rural businesses that serve the dairy industry had bought the tickets to offer in competitions.

"This is an example of the conference theme United to Succeed in action," de Villiers said.

"Rural support businesses have bought thousands of dollars' worth of conference tickets to give to clients who would otherwise not be able to afford to attend."

Water, hygiene and energy technologies and services company Ecolab gave away 13 two-day passes to the conference worth $299 each, stock feed supplier ADM gave away 12, while dairy systems supplier, DeLaval, health and safety firm HazardCo and the Primary ITO gave away two passes to the two day event.

The conference, at Claudelands Event Centre on May 4 and 5, is being held at a time when most dairy herds were dry. No milk meant no cash flow, a problem that was amplified by the loss-making pay out.

The conference includes professional and personal development workshops and will announce the Dairy Woman of the Year and Dairy Community Leadership award.

De Villiers said the initiative was just one launched by the network to help members get to this year's conference. Waikato based DairyNZ staff have also offered to billet 10 dairy women from outside of the region in their homes to help make conference attendance possible.

Ecolab marketing manager Louise Milliken said Ecolab loved how the Dairy Women's Network was driving the dairy industry in its own way.

"We bought as many double passes as we could," she said. "We appreciated that things in the dairy industry are not very positive at the moment."

ADM general manager Ross Bowmar wanted to make a difference by enabling 12 dairy women to attend the conference.

"This is especially important in light of the challenging business environment. As the saying goes 'a problem shared is a problem halved.' An event such as the DWN conference is an important opportunity to get off farm and discuss the challenges and solutions that will shape the industry going forward. The chance to network and share these experiences with liked minded women is invaluable on so many levels."

"We are just trying to do our bit," said HazardCo national development manager Hamish Norwood.

DeLaval Oceania sales and marketing executive Sharon Yeeles said: "It is a great conference for women within the industry to attend and it would be a shame for them to miss out due to the current climate."

"This year would probably be equally if not more important than any other year to boost morale, enable networking and provide strategies to cope in such a challenging environment."

PrimaryITO marketing and communications manager Claire Naeraa-Spiers encouraged dairy women to keep investing in their skills.

"The conference presents a good opportunity for women to come together, share their experiences and support one other," she said.

Hauraki Plains Dairy Women's Network convenor Jemma Morrissey thought it well worth spending $299 to get off the farm for a couple of days and learn.

"I am going because I just really enjoy going and talking to like-minded women," Morrissey said.

"I'm looking forward to going to the workshops and learning something new."

The network has added a "donation" button to its website at where donors can help out with the cost for those coming from outside of the Waikato.

De Villiers said dairy women were often the glue that held rural families and wider communities together in the down times.

"They deserve a couple of days off to forget about the stresses of the farm and learn something new in a positive environment," de Villiers said.