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Overview - Dairying Better 'n Better program
In early 2001, the industry developed a Regional Action Plan for NRM (that has been revised and updated in 2006 and 2009) to provide a strategic basis for NRM in the Queensland dairy industry. This plan is endorsed by the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO), Subtropical Dairy Program (the regional research and development arm of the dairy industry) and Dairy Australia through the Dairying for Tomorrow initiative. Key research, extension, training, program development and implementation and advocacy priorities have been identified to address the priority objectives for NRM in the industry.
Through the implementation of this plan the Queensland Dairy NRM Program aims to reinforce the resilience of the Queensland dairy industry by assisting farmers to adapt to change and to be well prepared for the challenges ahead, whilst remaining profitable. To this end, the initialDairying Better n Better resource tools were developed as part of a large ‘whole of industry’ program between 1999 and 2002. The key outputs included the publication and distribution to all farmers in the subtropical dairy region of a best management practices checklist book and CD-ROM. Evaluation of this program revealed that awareness raising of environmental issues and promotion of available tools alone did not automatically lead to their use and therefore improved on-farm practice changes. Of the 160 participants in the program, 6% changed their practices as a result of the program.
Dairying Better n Better for Tomorrow:
In 2003, the Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) and the Subtropical Dairy Program recognised the need to combine resources to establish the Queensland Dairy NRM Program. The Program receives direction from the Queensland NRM Steering Committee which has representation from the Subtropical Dairy Program and Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation. The Queensland Dairy NRM Program manages and implements the Dairying Better ‘n Better for Tomorrow Program and a suite of NRM projects, with the QDO managing the Queensland Dairy NRM team on behalf of the partnership.
Apart from the program partners, there are a number of organisations who support dairy farmers with natural resource management in Queensland. The Queensland Dairy NRM Program aims to integrate the activities of a number of partners, stakeholders, programs and plans to provide a coordinated and highly effective NRM support program for Queensland dairy farmers. Organisations that have been key partners in the delivery of the program in Queensland include:
- Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
- Queensland Farmers Federation
- Regional NRM groups
- Parmalat, Norco and Lion
The Dairying Better n Better for Tomorrow (DBnB) program builds on the Dairying Better n Better resource tools developed in 2002 and was refined following the implementation of the pilot project conducted by RuralScope Pty Ltd in 2003-2004 with support from Dairy Australia and the Subtropical Dairy Program. The program is designed to assist farmers to identify, develop and implement best practice natural resource management and environmental management practices on farm, to enhance the long term sustainability of the farm enterprise.The program adopts an industry managed approach, involving 8-15 producers in a sub-catchment working together with the support of a local facilitator and a Local Farmer Advocate (champion). Key aspects of the program include utilisation of the Dairy Self Assessment Tool (DairySAT); linkages with local, catchment and regional priorities; a workshop series to build skills and knowledge; action planning and implementation. The DBnB program provides farmers with an indication of the environmental performance of their operations, demonstrates that they have a plan in place to protect their environment, and are continually striving to improve it. The program assists farmers to assess their enterprise in terms of profitable sustainability and provide sustainable and profitable solutions to NRM issues. The program often is able to attract financial assistance for producers to assist them to adopt new practices on farm. Currently, 26 DBnB groups exist in Queensland, involving over 250 dairy farmers, which represents approximately 40% of the industry.
Dairying Better n Better On the Moo’ve:
DBnB also has a continuous improvement module, Dairying Better ‘n Better On the Moo’ve, which assists farmers to continually work at reassessing, prioritising and implementing improvements to NRM management practices on farm. This achieves the objectives of group sustainability, performance verification and continuous “action planning” that enables farmers to incorporate change into their farm management system. Dairying Better ‘n Better On the Moo’ve involves a formal review process of farmers’ NRM priorities by utilising a “scorecard” of their revised QDairySAT results. These group scorecards then serve as an anonymous vehicle with which industry can communicate its achievements.