Why does the SDH farm need to be so large?
The SDH business case allows for four herds of 200 cows which will facilitate multiple research trials, each with a control herd, which is unique in NZ. Each herd is still less than the average southland herd size but will allow new ways of farming to be stress tested at a commercial scale.
Are the SDDT and SDF 100% supportive of the SDH proposal?
Both SDDT and the SDF board are 100% supportive as it allows for work to continue on finding solutions to regional challenges. The original vision, mission, purpose statements and values are unchanged.
How do you combine research and development?
SDH will not replace intensive research trials at other locations and while there will be an element of discovery at SDH, this needs to be able to be applied commercially or perhaps adapted to do so, to enable it to become a benefit for farmers in the region. SDH will fill the void between direct research and implementation and uptake on farm.
Is research required or is it more important to better inform the community about the benefits of dairying?
The proposal is very much about educating and informing the public – this is a key role of the education extension hub. Video and web links and access to on-farm facilities will engage the public more than a pure demo farm can achieve.
It is the combination of the commercial application of research and education and extension that will make the SDH successful. The concept is adaptable and can be weighted to research or extension as industry and demand evolves over time.
How do we bring young people in and to enthuse them?
This can be achieved by providing educational groups (such as ITOs and schools) access to a commercial farm and education facilities that will support their efforts to engage young people in dairy farming.
SDH will also open the door to dairy to a much wider base than those that come from an agri background, potentially widening the industry’s resource base (remember we are also talking video and web links)
Has the working group determined what are its’ non-negotiables?
The working group determined that this proposal provides the best opportunity for addressing the challenges facing the dairy industry in the southern region today, while providing flexibility into the foreseeable future.
There are three business units – or legs to the stool; commercial dairy, comparative research and application, education and extension. These are vertically integrated and have inherent synergies so to exempt one would compromise the model and its ability to deliver the wider industry benefits SDH can deliver.
Discussions with potential partners may result in some small changes but SDDT/SDF believe that governance and management and the separation of these two are critical to success.
Can the benefits to both industry and community in the southern region be quantified?
By delivering the benefits highlighted in the proposal, SDH will ensure the on-going viability of dairying in the southern region thereby continuing to contribute to the national economy and to the local community through employment and business opportunities.
Who controls/influences the research programme?
A research advisory committee made up of representatives from Southern farmers and funding partners.
How do we ensure Governance is good?
The governance and management structure are considered to be critical to the success of the SDH proposal. This view is based on SDDT/SDT experience that the separation of governance and management has been one of the drivers of recent successes at SDF.
Building on SDDT/SDF experience, the proposed governance structure puts in place the most appropriate structure that provides for clarity of roles and responsibilities. Funding partners will have the opportunity to have a director appointed to the Board while SDDT will retain the right to appoint two. An independent chair and one independent director will also be appointed.
How are we going to please all partners?
We will achieve this by minimising the number of partners and the potential partners being approached, have clear benefits from being involved .That’s one of the positives of this proposal; there has been no need to adapt to appease any potential partners because it already fits with their purpose and strategy.
Of course there will be discussion on implementation from time to time, that’s healthy, but the governance structure and management model allows that discussion to happen without compromising the original intentions. That is why the separation of governance and management structure as well as clear roles and responsibilities is defined in the proposal.
What is being asked of farmers?
Farmers are the key pivot for this proposal. Dairy farmers (or more correctly their dairying businesses) are the primary benefactors under the trust deed. Farmers are being asked not only to commit in principal to the concept but also to support this project and through SDDT/SDF, contribute to its funding.
Donation forms will be available from May 2014 onwards and all farmers in the Southern Region, as well as further afield if desired, will have the opportunity to contribute.
What are the next steps?
Discussions are on-going with potential partners and we are now asking for farmers to indicate their support or pledges.
This record of farmer support and pledges will provide impetus to our discussion with potential investment partners. Now is the time for your voice to be heard.
If you have any further questions (or concerns) then please contact one of the SDDT or SDF board members at