Q&A’s

What is the Southern Dairy Hub concept? The Southern Dairy Hub aims to provide farmers with comparative research, demonstration of the research and education facilities. It is also the first of its kind in New Zealand where the research and demonstration activities will take place alongside partner organisations offering other services.

What does the Hub look like? The Hub will be a destination farm (300-380 ha) in central Southland. It will be home to 800-900 cows, split into four different herds to enable comparative research trials to be carried out at scale, and using a control herd.  It will also include education and training facilities, commercial and research office buildings.

How much will the Hub cost to create? The development cost of the Hub will be no more than $26.5 million. This will provide funding for the farm purchase, dairy conversion and the building of the associated buildings.

Who is funding the Hub? The Hub is being funded through three avenues:

  1. Industry Partners (DairyNZ and AgResearch) $10 million
  2. Local contribution approx. $5million
    • Southern Dairy Development Trust (SDDT) will contribute approximately $2.5 million, generated from the Southland Demonstration Farm
    • Southern dairy farmers and businesses $2 million ($2000 from every farm will achieve this)
  3. The balance will be funded with manageable debt.

Has the farm been purchased yet? The farm has not been purchased yet, but we are actively looking for a suitable property. Any offers will be subject to SDDT being able to raise sufficient capital.

Where are you looking to buy? The ideal location for the Hub is in the Central Southland area, so it can be as accessible to as many people as possible and also still be typical of southern conditions. The partners would ideally like the farm to be located within 30 minutes of Invercargill airport.

Where is the donated money now? SDDT is managing all capital raised on behalf of southern dairy farmers, with donations being held in a separate trust account until required. The trust account is being administered by SDDT with guidance from McIntyre Dick & Partners, Invercargill.

Why does the Southern Dairy Hub farm need to be so large? It is important that the research and demonstration work undertaken at the Hub is of sufficient size and scale to be relevant to local farmers. What is proposed will allow for four herds of 200 cows and multiple research trials to occur yet still retain a control herd. Each herd, while less than the average southern herd size is still of commercial scale and will deliver robust results.

What does $26.5 million provide? The $26.5 million Hub investment will represent a typical 300-380 ha farm (milking platform and young stock area) but with the infrastructure (paddocks, races, water) and research capability to run up to four trial herds. Rooms and facilities for community engagement and requirements for research and associated technicians have also been included.

Why are southern farmers being asked for donations when they already contribute funding through the industry good levy? All New Zealand farmers will support the Southern Dairy Hub through their levy, but it is not possible for DairyNZ to fund this project alone without having the direct financial support of southern farmers and commitment from other key partners. The Southern Dairy Hub will provide regional-based research that will directly benefit southern farmers, and provide education and business facilities for service providers in the region. Projects like the Southern Dairy Hub invariably work best where there is strong leadership and support from local farmers. As active partners in the Southern Dairy Hub, local farmers will give DairyNZ and AgResearch greater confidence to invest in the Hub. Local dairy farmers are being asked to contribute $2000, $5000 or $10,000, and will be recognised as bronze, silver or gold donors. All donors will be recognised in a plaque wall that will be created at the Hub.

What if you don’t raise enough money? The SDDT has given itself a deadline of April 30 2015 to raise $2 million from local southern farmers and businesses. After this deadline the industry partners will assess how much financial support for the Hub exists and make a decision on whether to proceed. The Trust is confident there is sufficient local dairy farmer and business support for the Southern Dairy Hub to proceed. It also believes the Hub proposal is a rare and potentially one-off opportunity for southern dairy farmers to join industry partners in developing something unique for the southern region. All donations will be refunded if the Hub does not proceed.  

What payment options are there? There are many ways southern farmers and businesses can support the Hub financially. These include:

  • A lump sum donation
  • FarmSource or Farmlands or PGG Wrightsons Account
  • Automatic Payments spread over a period of time
  • Through the donation of cull cows
  • Another idea? Please call and discuss options – 0800 336 632.

 Are the donations Tax deductible? SDDT has donor status with Inland Revenue department. This means that individuals are able to claim a donation tax credit and certain companies can claim a deduction for cash donations to SDDT. All donors are advised to seek their own tax advice.  

Can I donate some cows instead? Yes donating cull cows is an option – fill in our pledge form on the brochure or download from our website, send it into us and we’ll do the rest.

Where do I make this donation?

  • Fill in a pledge form and email or post to: info@southerndairyhub.co.nz or Southern Dairy Hub, c/- McIntyre & Dick, 160 Spey St, Invercargill 9840
  • Complete a pledge form by clicking here  or email us info@southerndairyhub.co.nz if you have any queries.
  • Contact us on 0800 336 632, and we’ll send you a donation form.

 Why should I donate? The Hub will provide comparative research and demonstration so that farmers are inspired to do things differently, with confidence. A Hub of this sort will enable farmers to achieve more growth, sustainably and generate overall prosperity for the region.

Is the Southern Dairy Hub the Southland Demonstration Farm in new clothes? The focus of the Hub is to provide comparative research for farmers, and to demonstrate that research.  

Will it all be a waste of money? Farmers see value in a concept like this and market research revealed that farmers want to see new ideas and theories tested and trialled in the southern region, under southern conditions. Farmers want the research undertaken in sufficient scale so they can have confidence to make changes required to enhance sustainability or profitability on their own farms.  

What did the farmer market research survey say? Farmers are supportive of the Hub concept and want a Hub that undertakes research that is:

  • Comparative. Farmers want new theories, innovations and ideas tested against the status quo and they want the results to be transparent and accessible
  • Able to be easily applied on their own farm
  • Farmer-led, on southern soils and conditions
  • Demonstrated. Farmers want to observe the research while it is underway or coming to its conclusion
  • Accessible. Farmers want the Hub to be centrally located and like the concept of having research and services located together at one location.

 What sort of research will this farm do? The Southern Dairy Hub will carry out a range of farmer-led research. Market research indicated farmers are keen that the Hub researches topics like:

  • Comparing N leaching levels across different forages and supplementary feeds
  • Comparing and testing new theories and innovation especially on wintering options, lameness, effluent, housing
  • Comparative farm systems
  • Applying current programmes (eg Forage Value Index) in local conditions for local data.

 Who determines what research will take place? A research advisory committee made up of southern farmers and principle partner representatives will decide what research is undertaken. The committee will assess research proposals to ensure objectivity, relevance and applicability for southern farmers.  

How is Southern Dairy Hub different to Telford? The Telford farm is a polytechnic focused on providing training and education for young agricultural students. More recently it has carried out some local research. The Southern Dairy Hub is complimentary to Telford and it may even be that the discovery work occurring at Telford is then applied to a commercial scale farm such as the Hub.

What education will be carried out at Southern Dairy Hub? The Southern Dairy Hub will provide facilities for training and education, but the actual delivery of education will be carried out by industry organisations such as PrimaryITO, the Dairy Women’s Network and other industry providers.  

How will the Hub contribute to attracting young people and exciting them about dairy farming? The Hub will provide access for school visits, which creates a key opportunity to educate young people about dairy farming. The education facilities planned will provide a suitable learning environment to engage and inspire while the Hub’s website will also enable a wider audience to be addressed with web link, farm cams, video etc.  

What is the Southern Dairy Hub’s governance structure? The proposed governance structure is:

  • Principle partner representative Director (1): appointed by DairyNZ
  • Principle partner representative Director (1): appointed by AgResearch
  • Local farmers (2): appointed by SDDT
  • An independent Chair
  • An independent Director

 How will disagreements be managed and avoided? There will be robust discussion and debate on the Hub’s implementation from time-to-time. That is healthy. The governance structure and management model proposed allows for that discussion to happen without compromising the original intentions. The constitution (purpose) of the proposed Hub aligns with those of the SDDT and the core purpose and strategy of each of the preferred partners. The Hub governance and management structures, as well as roles and responsibilities, are clearly defined in the proposal. The full proposal and constitution can be viewed at (click here).  

What is being asked of farmers? Farmers are at the centre of this proposal. Dairy farmers (or more correctly their dairying businesses) are the primary beneficiaries of the Hub and therefore farmers are being asked to commit in principal to the concept, as well as support the project and contribute to its funding.  

How do you combine research and demonstration? The Southern Dairy Hub will not replace intensive research trials at other locations and while there will be an element of discovery at Southern Dairy Hub, discovery needs to be able to be applied commercially or perhaps adapted to do so, to enable it to become a benefit for farmers in the region.  The Southern Dairy Hub will help fill the void between direct research and implementation and uptake on farm.  

How will the Hub involve the southern community and benefit the wider southern region? The Hub, through education and extension, has a key role in educating and informing the community on dairy farming, its role and responsibilities to the region. Planned video and web links as well as access to on-farm facilities will help to better engage and involve the community than in the past. The success of the Hub will be in its ability to commercially apply research, education and extension.  

Will the hub be financially viable as a stand-alone entity? The underlying business of the Hub is a commercial dairy farm. Its business model has to be viable and the proportion of debt is a factor in this. All research will be funded separately, including offsetting losses on the farms if profitability is compromised.