Wednesday, 15 July 2020 10:20

Action groups carry on-line

Written by  Staff Reporters
RMPP Action Group facilitator John Stantiall says farmers adapted to digital meetings better than he expected. Photo: file. RMPP Action Group facilitator John Stantiall says farmers adapted to digital meetings better than he expected. Photo: file.

Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group facilitator John Stantiall was unsure, at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, how meetings could work.

“But then I discovered Zoom and farmers adapted to that far better than I expected,” he says.

Stantiall, who is an agricultural consultant with Perrin Ag, facilitates eight Action Groups. His groups broke their usual full-day, on-farm meetings down into three Zoom meetings – including ‘virtual farm visits’.

He was also a regular participant in the weekly online support meetings RMPP invited all their facilitators to join throughout alert levels 3 and 4. This enabled them to share experiences and advice around the different online tools they were using. 

Since July 2019, RMPP had already been running monthly online meetings, which all facilitators could participate in. However, during lockdown these were held weekly to provide additional support and advice about facilitating remotely and using online tools, and to practice using them. The number of participants increased significantly.

“We are in contact with all our facilitators regularly,” says Denise Bewsell, extension specialist for the RMPP Action Network. 

“We get to hear what is happening with each of the groups but thought it would be great for facilitators to be able to share experiences and practical tips directly. We always say that ‘farmers like to talk to farmers’ – and facilitators like to talk to facilitators,” she adds.

“Increasing that to weekly meetings worked really well. There were really varied responses from facilitators at the start of lockdown in terms of how they felt online meetings would work. Some were confident it would work, while others felt it would be hard and were concerned about broadband or that farmers would not have the right equipment. 

“It was really good for them to talk about their experiences and for those who were concerned to talk with other facilitators who were already trying it. We very quickly had people asking each other a lot of questions, such as ‘how is shared Google Docs working for you’ or ‘how are you finding using Chatbox?’ Shared experience really supported people in getting started with online meetings.” 

The facilitator meetings will also include sessions with subject matter experts including Australians Dr Ruth Nettle, an authority on extension in rural change, and extension specialist John James. Another upcoming talk is planned with sport development consultant Hugh Galvan of Sport New Zealand. 

Stantiall says that he found the RMPP weekly meetings incredibly supportive and kicking off online Action Group meetings with a relaxed approach worked well. 

“In the early ones, in particular, farmers were still facing a lot of issues alongside the lockdown,” he says. “It was still very dry, and many needed to sell stock. They really appreciated the meetings continuing and being able to just talk to other farmers.

“Without Zoom it would have been difficult to have any meetings at all and that could also potentially have been a threat to my work.”

Stantiall also sees greater opportunities for engaging with farmers remotely in the future. 

“This has opened up a whole new range of opportunities for expert speakers,” he says. 

“Coming out of lockdown, we have had Action Group meetings back on farm and we have enough to focus on in the short to medium term, but in the longer term planning, options will include getting expert speakers via Zoom for a lot less cost, when you don’t have to take travel and accommodation into account.”

More like this

Dairy demand tipped to firm

Demand for dairy will firm over the next two years as  the global economy rebounds from Covid, says Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny.

Staying ahead of the game

High-performing farmers are front-footing challenges facing the sheep and beef sector and adapting their businesses, according to new research by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The minister of zoom

Trade Minister Damien O'Connor says he and other trade ministers around the world will need to get used to developing relationships via Zoom.

Featured

 

John Deere names new Aust/NZ head

John Deere Australia/New Zealand’s new managing director Luke Chandler says he will prioritise leading the way in technology and investing in strong relationships.

Trade deal delivers new 'rulebook'

A new trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), has been described as a new rule book for trade in the Asian region.

National

Wyeth ready for the 'Coast'

The chief executive-elect of Yili-owned Westland Milk Products Richard Wyeth is looking forward to the challenge of running the company.

Machinery & Products

Weeds in for a shock

WIith an increasing focus on reducing chemical herbicides, largely because of crop resistance and a potential build-up of residues, new…

V8 - a baler with a grunt

Following three years of testing with clients worldwide, Ireland-based manufacturer McHale has added a bigger model to its range of…

Virtual CV valuable tool

With a 12-year history of recruiting specialised operators from overseas to service the agricultural contracting industry, Hanzon Jobs typically brings…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Action, please!

The Hound notes that despite the new government having been elected for well over a month, there seems to a…

Educated?

Your canine crusader is intrigued to learn that the upper-class twats who attend Oxford University in the UK have voted…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter