Changes to Gypsy Week timing mooted

by Anonymous Author

Moving Day is entrenched in the dairy farming culture, but a discussion has started within the industry about whether there are less disruptive ways to move farms.

For many in the dairy industry June 1, means one thing — time to move. As the new season starts around the country, thousands of share milkers pack their cows into stock trucks and move equipment and families to new farms. It is a familiar sight which sums up the traditional path of progression in New Zealand’s dairy industry.

Recently, more awareness of the disruption the move can have on families, small rural communities and schools, has led to a discussion in the industry about whether there is another way.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader, Mark Paine, said a discussion stemmed from a workshop involving people from different sectors of the industry, which focussed on improving the reputation and experience of working in dairying. Getting away from the traditional moving day was one of the issues explored.

“When we dug into it, there was agreement that it is incredibly disruptive for rural communities and schools,” Mr Paine said.

“Secondly, it has a fairly negative impact in terms of stock movement for locals.”

Mr Paine also questioned whether the emphasis on change every June 1 causes unnecessary uncertainty in farming relationships.

“It’s about trying to get the balance right between progression, which is a good thing, and continuity in the industry in terms of making sure that people stay long enough to really stick with the farm system, understand the particular farm they are on and have it really humming, which is really a three-year-plus experience.

“When really effective employment relationships are operating you don’t want to have the expectation of moving day bringing that to an end.

“If things are going great then focus on the things that will make it go better. Don’t stop the whole thing because there is this kind of industry expectation that it’s moving day, it’s time to move.”

Mr Paine said farmers would never get away from the physical reality of having to move stock and equipment on the day itself, but he suggests phasing a family’s move to better suit children and the communities they move into.

He suggested more could be made of the weeks before the new season once cows have been dried off.