Tammy Negus

Western Australia

National dairy conference delegate embraces change

Busselton farmer and agronomist Tammy Negus is a big advocate for embracing change in the dairy industry.

Tammy has worked in agronomy for 15 years, recently adding human resource management to her expanding skills set.

Earlier this year she jumped at the opportunity to secure a bursary from the Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network (ALWN) to attend the recent Australian Dairy Conference in Melbourne.

According to Dairy Australia project manager Natasha Busbridge, who coordinates ALWN, helping dairy women attend the Australian Dairy Conference provided an important professional development opportunity, with one bursary offered in each of the eight dairy regions.

“ADC offers a diverse range of industry highlights and technical topics to attract farmers,” she said. “But getting time off-farm can be challenging. All our farmers attending the conference took something away with them to help their business and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with other farmers.”

Tammy has returned from the conference with a fresh impetus to move with a rapidly-changing industry. 

Tammy farms with her husband Oscar and their son Sam, along with Oscar’s parents, Oscar senior and Wendy, at Busselton where they milk about 1100 cows on a mix of dryland farming and irrigated land.

Attending her first Australian Dairy Conference reinforced Tammy’s belief that dairy farmers need to be open minded and progressive. “The conference works on the large picture of dairy farming and pitches ideas to challenge your way of thinking,” she said.

“The world is moving and consumers’ preferences are moving. As producers we need to be prepared to change as well and use all the innovations that are available to give us an advantage.”

Originally from the small country town of Wagin, Tammy was strongly influenced by the family’s grain and sheep farm and developed a love of the land that remains solid today.

Part of the appeal of dairy farming is the constant challenge and change. “It’s challenging but very dynamic,” Tammy said. “There’s a lot of expertise and scientific research that farmers can call on and we’re continually finding more information to farm better.”

Tammy is part of that process as editor of Western Dairy’s Feedtrough newsletter which features articles to help farmers improve their feeding programs.

“Feeding has a big influence over milk production and animal health so it’s important that we continue making improvements,” she said.

Likewise, Tammy believes a healthy mindset for people working in the industry has long-term benefits.

“It’s important that people are in the right frame of mind and that the team is healthy,.

“Better communication enables a more effective team and you get much better productivity.”

The Negus family has 11.5 equivalent full time staff. “In 2009 I started to do the payroll and from there my human resources work developed into something I now do for the WA industry,” Tammy said.

Part of the appeal of attending the conference was the opportunity to mix with fellow-farmers and to hear from specialists from within and outside the dairy industry. 

“One of the biggest challenges for WA farmers is that we are quite isolated from other states, so it’s beneficial to travel interstate and see how others farm,” Tammy said.

“The beauty of the conference is that it has specialists with good ideas from all over Australia and other countries, and not just from the dairy industry. We also heard from pizza and chocolate makers.”

Tammy is confident dairy has a good future in Western Australia. 

“There will always be a fit for dairy. There are ups and downs but it’s a very resilient industry that adapts and continues to produce good quality products.” 

Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network was established to connect and support Australian dairy women. It is an active on-line community and can be joined via Facebook.