Dairy career paths need more exposure

By Rick Bayne

New DairyTas regional manager Jonathan Price wants to expose more people to career paths in the dairy industry.

Replacing long-serving Mark Smith in the role, Mr Price says the industry is well positioned and confidence is improving, though it’s not yet ready to be called buoyant.

“Most people are well-positioned to set themselves up for a good season with some positive price signals and more favourable seasonal conditions,” he said.

“It’s not quite buoyant but there is more optimism than there has been in recent years, which is pleasing. Confidence levels have increased from a relatively low basis given the events of the past 18 months.”

Mr Price said his immediate priorities were to continue supporting the delivery of programs to help farmers.

“At times we need to shift our focus onto shorter-term pressures, as we’ve seen in the past 18 months around the adjustment in price and the challenging wet conditions we experienced last winter, but we’ll continue on the longer-term goals.”

One strategic goal centres on people in the industry.

“I think the dairy industry in Tasmania has raised its profile into the broader community in recent years but I still think there’s an opportunity to extend that profile into a greater level of knowledge and understanding as to what the industry can provide as a career path,” he said.

“Creating a greater level of knowledge and understanding around career paths should create a larger base of people wanting to get into the industry which will increase the overall calibre of people and therefore allow the dairy businesses of Tasmania to benefit from that bigger pool of people.

“There is an appreciation of the role the industry plays in the Tasmanian economy; the next level is greater knowledge of how it operates and its markets, opportunities and career paths.”

Mr Price said a lot had been done at industry level to educate farmers on employing and managing people correctly to stay in the industry.

His priorities include helping farmers to increase capability to achieve their business goals, mostly centred on profitability, sustainability and the environment.

“I see a strong dairy presence long-term. There has been substantial growth over the past 10–15 years and the level of interest around investing in Tassie hasn’t waned in that period,” Mr Price said.

“The appetite of existing dairy farmers has been curtailed a little but at an investment level it has remained strong and we continue to see new entrants into the industry.”

Mr Price is originally from Tasmania and worked with Fonterra for the past eight years, initially as an Area Manager (Circular Head) and then as Regional Milk Supply Manager — Tasmania.

His most recent role was Farmer Services Manager at Fonterra’s headquarters in Melbourne.

After nearly 15 years with DairyTas and 25 years in the Tasmanian dairy industry, Mr Smith retired at the end of August.