Young Farmers think big at The Australian Dairy Conference

In February this year, four young farmers from the WestVic Dairy region attended The Australian Dairy Conference (ADC) in Melbourne.

The ADC is Australia’s premier dairy event, and The Gardiner Dairy Foundation sponsored the attendance of Max Bond from Cooriemungle, Zoe Greenslade (Peterborough), Matt Swayn (Nalangil) and Gregor Mews (Koroit). Each participant brought their own unique perspectives to the event and returned with valuable insights.



This year’s conference theme was ‘The power of purpose’. Matt said the theme prompted him to think about the dairy industry’s role in society, and the importance of the industry meeting societal expectations. 



“Having a good relationship with the public and your neighbours is important. We have to meet the public’s needs as the consumers of our products. We need them to be happy to spend their money on dairy so that we can continue to do what we love,” said Matt. 



How those expectations can lead to government regulations that impact day-to-day dairy farming is also something Matt is now thinking about.


“The environment is increasingly important to lots of people. Possible future government regulations to protect the environment will affect the way we are able to farm. We will most likely have to make changes,” said Matt. 



Having attended the ADC, Matt’s perspective has broadened – and he is taking a more comprehensive, big picture, long-term approach to farming. 



“I’m now looking at how sustainable our farm is and how we can make improvements to future proof our farm, even if government regulations impact what we are able to do,” he said. 



A highlight of the ADC for Matt and Max was listening to Ukrainian dairy farmer, Andriy Dykun, as he told his story about farming on the front line. Andriy is the Head of The Agricultural Council Ukraine & President of The Milk Processor Association of Ukraine. 



Max said the stories Andriy shared were confronting. 



“Because of the war, Andriy and other farmers in Ukraine are dealing with constant shelling and bombing – completely destroying their farming land and death is on their front doorsteps nearly every day,” Max explained. 



“As farmers, they don’t run. They stay on the land that they love, milking their cows that they love. It was heartbreaking to see such terrible things happening on the other side of the world to our fellow farmers. 



“I learnt how privileged and fortunate we are to farm in this country. We have our own on-farm challenges, from environmental issues to financial stress, but nothing can compare to what the Ukraine farmers are facing. My heart goes out to all Ukraine farmers affected.” 



All participants made the most of the networking opportunities at the conference; meeting and speaking to farmers, industry leaders and service providers from across Australia.



“There was so much positivity in the room about the industry and where the future of dairy is heading in Australia. It was a great event, and I would encourage anyone in the industry to get along to the ADC,” said Max. 



On behalf of the group, Matt thanked The Gardiner Foundation for providing them with the opportunity to attend the ADC in 2024.



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