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Building the skills in Southland
Harry Prebble, Ian McLachlan, Glenn Erskine and Phil Crutchley.

Building the skills in Southland

After a successful trial, a programme aimed at building the skill-set of sheep and beef farmers is being held again in Southland.

Applications are now open for the Future Farmer focus group, a programme that delivers three technical workshops over a six-month period. These workshops cover farm business, personal development, tools and technology, genetics and understanding the supply-chain.

Aimed at building the skills of more practically-minded people, the programme is the brainchild of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Southern South Island Farmer Council and has been organised by the region’s extension manager Olivia Ross.

Phil Crutchley from Te Anau is taught how to fly a drone by AbacusBio’s Luke Proctor.

Olivia says they have been very pleased with the success of the programme and have had positive feedback from the 20 participants who completed last year’s course.

Lisa Crawford, who farms alongside her parents in the Waikaka Valley, found the programme valuable and says she would recommend it to anybody who wants to learn about – and progress through – the sheep and beef industry.

“Particularly for those going down the line of farm succession or who are looking at various options for entering the industry,” she says.

Lisa found the modules on finance and genetics particularly useful and enjoyed her first module session, which included goal-setting.

One of her goals was to buy sheep and she had ticked that one off within just a few months.

‘Selecting a diverse range of experiences, ages and locations also means greater networking opportunities and the sharing of ideas between participants.’

The final module included a visit to a meat processor followed by a session with a chef who demonstrated how different cuts are used. This included a few recipes and meal ideas for busy young people.

Lisa says it was great to see the whole chain from farm-gate to the plate.

For Lisa, the Future Farmer programme has been a springboard into further developing her skill-base and this year she is doing an Agriwomen Development Trust’s “Understanding Your Farm Business” course.

Olivia says applications for the 2017 intake of the Future Farmer focus group opened at the end of February and they will be selecting 20 people.

“By selecting a diverse range of experiences, ages and locations also means greater networking opportunities and the sharing of ideas between participants.”

She says there is no age limit to the programme, the overall goal is to maintain farmers within the sheep and beef industry and for them to be recognised as a valuable asset to the New Zealand economy.

The Future Farmer focus group aims to help those working in the sheep and beef sector develop an understanding of the farm business, develop better decision-making skills, understand the importance of managing mental health and personal well-being and gain insight into the machinations of the sheep and beef industries.

The three workshops are held in different locations in Southland and Otago and this year module two – which covers agri-tools and technology as well as genetics – will be a two-day workshop in Dunedin.

For further information contact Olivia Ross on 0278017868