"This is all about looking after each other, sharing stories, connecting and making friendships."
The NSW Women in Dairy Bale-Up annual conference got underway in Port Macquarie on Tuesday, September 13.
Around 110 women involved in the dairy industry have come from across the state to network, socialise and learn new skills.
Committee member and Wauchope dairy farmer Sue Cleary said the conference is a chance for women in dairy to take a break from farm life.
"The job is seven days a week, 365 days a year. You have to put in place things that will help alleviate the stress," she said.
Sue opened the conference alongside another Wauchope dairy farmer Jenny Eggert, the pair spoke of the many disruptions and threats the dairy industry is facing.
"In 1998 when we held the first conference in Nowra, we didn't know of any other threats to the industry except for deregulation," Sue said.
"The words vegan, animal activists, $1 milk and climate change did not exist in our perception of what could impact the dairy industry.
"Already two women have said they will be reducing their dairy herds, which is sad to hear. But it's one way they can cope."
Women in Dairy is a not-for-profit group of women who work to provide facilities to bring people together, educate and provide support. Looking after farmers' mental health is one of the group's highest priorities.
"It's getting harder to sustain the long hours necessary in the industry. The well-being of all of us is always an issue," Sue said.
Jenny said the next three days are a chance for the conference attendees to "kick off their boots and step away from the farm for a few days".
She said it has been positive to see so many young women getting involved.
"It has been good to see the next generation of women in dairy coming on board," she said. "I think that's really positive for the industry.
"The age of all farmers is getting older, so having people here and networking together is important to keep the industry going."
The 2022 conference has been postponed twice due to COVID-19 restrictions. It will feature guest speakers, a gala dinner, networking opportunities and workshops.
"This particular event has been a long time coming and we do hope it's going to be wonderful for everyone," Sue said.
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