Focus farmers are selected through an application process and supported over the two years by a farm consultant and a support group made up of other farmers and service providers. The support group meets regularly throughout the year, and hosts open days for other interested farmers and the dairy industry to get a closer look at the Focus Farms’ progress.
West Vic Dairy's Regional Extension Officer Laurie Hickey said the initiative provided real benefits to not only the selected farm itself, but also provided important findings for the rest of the industry.
"We try to find out how to achieve some of the goals of the farm, to build their business, to look at reducing fixed costs where possible and how we can maximise homegrown feed and therefore reducing feed costs.
"Given that the focus is totally on profitability, we do employ a well recognised facilitator or farm consultant to run the business. Around that same time we set up a support group of usually 20, 10 local farmers and 10 local service providers to assist with the decisions of a day to day running of the farm.
"The project does include three field days. So in that we look at where the farm is and where we're trying to go and just what achievements have been made in that time. So there's a lot of learning that comes from those field days and they're usually very well populated, quite often we have up to 80 people attend."