Southland is teetering on the edge of a bad situation, according to DairyNZ’s lead consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch.
The two-day event in Hamilton is expected to attract 700 farmers.
The speakers' line-up will be spearheaded by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings.
DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Rick Pridmore, says the event will give dairy farmers insight into how to adapt their businesses to the times and how the global environment will shape the future of NZ milk production.
"Adapting to the changing environment is more important than ever," Pridmore says. "Farmers are looking hard at where they can improve their businesses."
On day one English will speak on the Government's view of dairying's future, and Spierings will speak about what the dairy industry needs to do well to succeed.
Other keynote speakers include Tim Hunt, Rabobank head of food and agribusiness research and advisory, who will speak about what is happening in global markets and what this means for NZ dairy farmers.
Day two keynote speakers include Zespri International chief operating officer Simon Limmer and grower Ian Greaves, who will outline lessons learnt by the kiwifruit industry after the PSa outbreak.
"The Farmers' Forum is a great opportunity for dairy farmers. It's rare to hear from a line-up of speakers of this calibre at a single event, and it is important to get off-farm and interact with other farmers," says Pridmore.
Farmers can also choose from 11 workshops over two days.
A workshop by Lincoln University's professor of trade and environmental economics, Caroline Saunders, will address what overseas customers want from our milk and what they are willing to pay for it.
A panel discussion of dairy company leaders will look at value add, including Tatua chief executive Paul McGilvary, Open Country Dairy chairman Laurie Margrain, Miraka chief executive Richard Wyeth and Lewis Road Creamery co-founder Peter Cullinane.
Waikato University agribusiness professor Jacqueline Rowarth will host a workshop discussing genetic modification and whether it should be part of the industry's future.
Other workshops include a pasture-first strategy, exploring whether $3/kgMS farm working expenses is doable, staff roster systems, growing better quality and more persistent pastures, breeding better cows and dealing with environmental constraints.
The forum is free to levy paying dairy farmers and their staff. Registrations are open and essential prior to the event. To view the full programme or register, visit www.dairynz.co.nz/farmersforum
• DairyNZ Farmers' Forum 2016
• May 17-18
• Mystery Creek Events Centre, Hamilton
• Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English
• Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings
• Fonterra chief operating officer velocity, Jacqueline Chow
• Rabobank head of food and agribusiness research and advisory, Tim Hunt
• Lincoln University's trade and environmental economics professor, Caroline Saunders
• Waikato University agribusiness professor, Jacqueline Rowarth
• Entrepreneur Melissa Clark-Reynolds.