A COLAC district farmer has visited 12 countries during 16 weeks of study trips to examine overseas farming practices.
But South Purrumbete’s Adam Jenkins says the biggest lesson he took from the trips was not about foreign farms – it was about managing his own farm.
Mr Jenkins went on two study trips overseas through a Rabobank Nuffield Scholarship.
He said his biggest lesson was managing his 240-cow dairy farm while overseas.
“One of the best things about the Nuffield scholarship, apart from the experience travelling, and learning so much about agriculture, about culture, about people, is probably learning so much about yourself and your own family and then your own business,” Mr Jenkins said.
“I mean I left the farm for 16 weeks all up which is pretty hard any time, so that was biggest learning for me, that to be able step outside that square and sort of manage
the business from afar which we did through a whole range of relief milkers,” he said.
“It was a challenge on the family as well; I’ve got four young children between the age of two and nine.”
Mr Jenkins travelled to India, the Ukraine, Bahrain, Turkey, France and the USA with six other Nuffield scholars.
He said the group looked at the challenges and potential competitors facing the Australian dairy industry.
“I guess from developing countries they’ve got huge opportunities to expand long-term, they probably don’t have the right infrastructure at the moment,” Mr Jenkins said.
“But also in those developing countries like India, their middle classes are going to expand so much so that’s where the demand for food, particularly dairy, is going to come from, those countries are a huge opportunity for us,” he said.
“And then you look at somewhere like the US, which is a developed country, with their subsidies and things like that.
“It makes us look at our farming practices and looking at how efficient we have to be to compete against that sort of system.”
Mr Jenkins then took his own eight-week study trip to Argentina, Chile, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK.
“I met with a lot of farmers, a lot of co-operatives and a lot of industry and just got a really good understanding of what the challenges are and opportunities we have in the Australian dairy industry,” he said.
“I’m probably even more and more interested in profitable dairy farming from a grass-based low-input system to get that cost base down.
“We have to produce milk for less cost to be competitive in the world market.”