Fonterra's milk price signalling needs to "drastically'' improve for its farmers.

That is the message from Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman Stephen Crawford, who says many need the information sooner to make decisions regarding wintering options and discretionary spending options.

"I understand farmers are sending a clear message to Fonterra this must improve,'' Mr Crawford said in his annual report.

Times were still interesting in the dairy industry and could remain so for some time yet.

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It was a good opportunity for the industry to refocus on profit, or minimising losses, versus production, he said.

While farmers could not change the weather or prices, they could influence the outcome by choosing the farming system that worked best for total profit, or minimised loss as in the current times.

It was important to keep an eye on neighbours and, particularly, newer entrants to the industry.

Help was available and he urged people to contact the Otago Rural Support Trust.

Another focus needed to be effluent and, with winter approaching, farmers were urged to manage effluent ponds to low levels.

The Otago Regional Council would not "go easy'' because of the current financial woes, he said.