Facing the toughest season in memory, Murraylands dairyfarmer Geraldine Dohnt sees the value in reaching out to her peers and her community for support.
Ms Dohnt, who farms with husband Glen, four children and seven workers at Monteith near Murray Bridge, says networking is invaluable at any time but especially when times are tough.
Attending the 2018 Bale Up Women in Dairy conference in NSW inspired her to connect with more likeminded women. Since then, Ms Dohnt signed up to attend Monday’s DairySA Ladies Lunch and is also looking to join the local Country Women’s Association group.
“The conference made me want to come back here and get more involved,” she said.
“It’s great to be with other women who face the same issues; it helps you realise it’s not just you against everything.”
The Dohnts milk 800 cows and crop 2800 hectares in one of the few dairying properties in the region. Mr Dohnt’s family has been on the land for 35 years and they are predicting it will be the toughest season they’ve experienced in that time.
It’s great to be with other women who face the same issues; it helps you realise it’s not just you against everything.
“You’ve got to roll with it and do what you can,” Ms Dohnt said. “We’re trying to plan how we cover everything this season and the next.”
In a normal year, the Dohnts will produce enough grain and hay to feed their cows but the drought has severely affected crops.
“Most of the state is going to have a tough year,” Ms Dohnt said.
“It’s going to hamstring what we do and we’re looking at all other feed options.”
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Ms Dohnt was supported by Dairy Australia through the Legendairy Women’s Network to attend the networking conference organised by NSW Women in Dairy.
The conference included sessions on resilience, the potential for women in dairy, forming partnerships, leading from within and looking after women, along with a visit to local farms.
“It was great to get involved with a like-minded group and to hear the inspiring stories of passionate young women getting into the industry,” she said. “We live on a six-kilometre road and there were probably 20 farms here 40 years ago, now there are three. There are so few of us now that we don’t get together with other people as much as you’d like.”
Inspired by the conference, Ms Dohnt is championing the role of women in dairy and local communities.
“That’s why I wanted to go – to be around women who are so passionate about what we do,” she said.
Dairy Australia board member Tania Luckin, who presented at the conference, said the participants’ passion for dairy shone through despite the tough conditions.