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SMASH - The Event 2010 - Small Herds : Big Picture

The word is out - and it's SMASH ! Smaller Milk And Supply Herds. And it's about time.

Think dairy, add mid-Canterbury, and one usually conjures up images of large herds and massive irrigators, their gleaming archways stretching across the farmscape, merging with the horizon. Strange as it may seem, that exact scenario was the birth-place of a fresh new concept to the dairy world. It's not that Smaller Milk Herds are a new concept, in fact they are the grass roots, the very foundation of the New Zealand Dairy Industry. The new concept is that now there is an organization representing smaller herds: SMASH. "Tony and I were driving through Ashburton last year, and there was a huge billboard along the roadside: Large Herds Conference" says Fran Allcock, indicating the size of the billboard. "I asked Tony what's a large herd conference! Is there a small herds conference? Why not? Have we been forgotten? Don't we count? Are we a thing of the past?" It would seem smaller herds had largely been forgotten! Or at least ignored and neglected. So is there actually a need for a smaller herds organisation? "I spoke to a few people initially about the idea, then let it settle for a bit. A few months later I mentioned my concept to Joyce Brown - and Joyce got excited! She spoke to her farm consultant, who said "You need to talk to this man", and that's how we got to meet Mark Paine from DairyNZ." Things happened very fast from then on. Fran, Chairman of SMASH, says the enthusiasm and support for this has been overwhelmingly positive. "Ask around!" invites Fran. "Everyone says 'yes I've heard of Large Herds, no I've never heard of anything for small herds'." "We discovered some interesting attitudes and frustrations during our quest for SMASH. 'Ahh! The Forgotten Base of the Industry' one consultant called us! Fellow smaller-herd farmers have voiced their increasing frustration at the lack of support for our sector of the industry." SMASH: The Event 2010 - Small Herd : Big Picture is a series of three 'compact' conferences which will be held in West Waikato, East Waikato and in the South Island on the West Coast. The programme for each of The Events is planned to be highly practical, very interactive, informative and fun. They are run by farmers for farmers, and will feature farmers sharing their hard-won top tips, as well as presentations by dynamic and charismatic international and New Zealand speakers. "We're all farmers" says Fran. "We like to do things, not just sit and listen. And we like to know that the people we're talking to know what they're talking about. We like to know what works, so if we implement some new idea on our farm, we can expect it to work for us too. I'm so excited about the people we have lined up ready to share their knowledge, their skills and experience." What about the Big Picture? How many smaller herds are there and what percentage do they represent in the national dairy herd? If you think you're 'just a small herd' - you need to lose the "just". You need to see the Big Picture. You might as well, because you're in it! Farms are multi-million dollar food-growing businesses. Do smaller-herd farmers consider themselves as business people who operate a multimillion dollar business? Do they realise the position and the potential they hold in the global food market?

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