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Abstract

This paper describes the development and achievements of a farm management service available to all dairy farmers in Australia. Dairy businesses in Australia came under severe pressure between the years 2002 and 2004 when three events coincided: a prolonged drought; deregulation which removed protection on milk prices; a downturn in the global commodity price for milk. Taking Stock was developed as a farm management service to help businesses respond to these pressures. Significant development challenges were encountered to ensure services reached 9,500 farmers who were scattered across 7,682,300 square kilometres using vastly different production systems to farm under temperate, sub-tropical or Mediterranean climate zones. These businesses were receiving varying degrees of support from a variety of organisations in the service sector. We ask the question, to what extent can a program like Taking Stock build industry confidence and enable an industry to develop a more inquisitive business culture? We conclude that progress can be made as a whole of industry towards building confidence and to improve the level of inquiry among farmers if seven development factors are addressed by the program.

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