Is New Zealand's Gypsy Day Too Disruptive?

NEW ZEALAND - Dairy industry leaders suggest change is needed to minimise the negative effects of the annual farm move for sharemilkers on families, communities and business.
calendar icon 8 April 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

Every year on 1 June, also known as Gypsy Day, thousands of New Zealand sharemilkers pack their cows into stock trucks and move equipment and families to new farms for the new season.

The traditional moves are generally regarded as representing progression in the industry.

However, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for people and business, Mark Paine, said: “When we dug into it, there was agreement that it is incredibly disruptive for rural communities and schools.

“Secondly it has a fairly negative impact in terms of stock movement for locals.”

He also said that the moves can cause unnecessary uncertainty in a farm business, as truly understanding a farm can be "a three year plus experience".

“When really effective employment relationships are operating you don’t want to have the expectation of Gypsy Day bringing that to an end.

"If things are going great then focus on the things that will make it go better.

"Don’t stop the whole thing because there is this kind of industry expectation that it’s Gypsy Day, it’s time to move.”

Some dairy leaders suggest that having a phased move over a few weeks, or moving at a different time of year, might be more suited to family and community life. In addition, communities could produce resources to make sure that farmers new to the area had information such as the location of key services.

DairyNZ Southland/South Otago regional leader Richard Kyte said: “You’re still not going to get away from stock on the road and the physical aspect.

"From a farming systems perspective you can’t be moving any other time. But it’s at a higher level we’re talking; it’s around families.”

Mr Paine said that the industry is now discussing options to better support progression and support communities during times of significant change like Gypsy Day.

“While June 1 will always be with us, good planning leading up to this date and effective communication surrounding the move is crucial to minimising stress and disruption to families and communities.”

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