Farmers told to tune news out
Hundreds of dairy farmers have converged on Dunedin for the South Island Dairy Event, which kicked off yesterday.
However, there were no Redband gumboots in sight.
More than 500 delegates registered for the three-day event, which chairman David Holdaway said would feature cutting-edge research and technology and plenty of time for networking.
"It [SIDE] is designed by farmers for farmers. It is a great opportunity for farmers to get reinvigorated."
Organising committee chairman Brangka Munan, who farms at Milton, said the theme "People, Perception and Pride" summed up the dairy industry.
Keynote speaker David Todd, who replaced Olympic rower Rob Hamill, said he had no claim to fame.
"I've never climbed Mt Everest, but I have walked halfway up Coronet Peak in my RM Williams boots," he said.
Mr Todd challenged farmers to take control of their own destiny and manage their surroundings.
Instead of listening to the news on the car radio, which was often negative, he encouraged them to listen to music.
His choice was the popular Kenny Rogers song The Gambler, which he played to delegates.
The former head of coaching and development at ASB Bank said he had lost 10kg since he spoke at the SIDE event a year ago, by running three or four times a week and cutting back on beer.
Mr Todd also encouraged farmers to take three holidays a year – one with their family, one with their "significant other" and one on their own.
A media session hosted by award-winning journalist Genevieve Westcott focused on educating farmers on handling reporters and she conducted mock interviews with willing participants.
She said farmers should learn to work with the media.
It was the first time SIDE had been held at the University of Otago because of the Stadium Southland rebuild.
Today's sessions focus on the decline of milk consumption, ensuring a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace, and the global dairy outlook.
The Southland Times