Study option puts farm time and business first

08 March 2019

Investing in formal training can be a tough decision for busy dairy farmers. A new business plan writing course is helping to address that and provide a stepping stone to further learning.

Melissa Shove already had two diplomas (in sports management and coaching, and sports massage), when she found herself shoulder-tapped for a ‘Write a business plan’ course by her local branch of the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN). Whakatane-based Melissa had downsized her sports massage business to one day a week after having children and, in 2017, she and her husband Jeremy started their first season contract milking on Melissa’s parents’ farm near Edgecumbe.

Melissa had taken on the farm’s human resources and financials paperwork and was keen for some upskilling. The course approach also meant she didn’t have to spend too much time off-farm. “You’re constantly learning through DWN’s activities and events,” Melissa explains. “So when this came up, I thought, ‘why not?’ It’s important to keep learning. Your toolbox is never full.”

Her May/June 2018 course was tutored by Dairy Training Limited’s (DTL) Gillian Searle. Melissa loved the course’s approach because most of the work could be completed in the classroom and the business plan could be applied on the farm straight away.

Melissa and husband Jeremy Shove’s business plan helps them to keep on track when the unexpected happens – like Jeremy breaking his leg in January.

DWN’s regional manager for the middle and upper North Island, and team leader (for the North and South Island), Jodie Mexted, agrees. “With this course, you don’t just walk away knowing how to create a business plan, you actually walk away with a business plan itself.”

“The motivation to make our business plan work is very strong,” Melissa says. “We thought, ‘this is our money, we’re putting down a lot for the contract milking, so we need to work just as hard on business planning’. The plan is also helping us become better employers.”

Course attendees can also put their business plan forward for NZQA accreditation. Melissa has done this and now her learning has been recognised as part of her Diploma in Agribusiness Management.

“Formal learning is an investment,” says Jodie. “That’s why this course, open to both men and women, is a stepping stone for dairy farmers deciding whether to spend the money or time on formal learning.”

Sign up today

This course is free for participants (men and women) during its pilot phase. It’s funded by the Joint Venture Amalgamation Project (JVAP), a partnership between Primary ITO, DairyNZ, Wintec and DairyNZ’s subsidiary, DTL.

Participants don’t have to be DWN members but all registrations must go through the DWN website.

  • Go to (then click on the events calendar) to register and learn more about these courses.
  • Phone Jodie Mexted at 027 253 7958 if you’d like to speak with someone.

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Lee Cowan
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