ACCOUNTING, BANKING & FINANCE

Q&A with a dairy farmer

Being born on a farm is not a prerequisite for a career in agriculture.

My life motto has always been “To live with Passion” and I have always focused on the words of Nelson Mandela – “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”.

In other words I throw my self 100% whole-heartedly into everything I set out to achieve. A life without goals is a life without passion.

Growing up my best friend lived on a dairy farm only a short push-bike ride from my house. Right from the start I was always fascinated by the dairy and the cattle- we would follow her dad and grandfather around the farm pestering them with questions and always wanting to help, or more likely hinder their efforts when it came time to feed the calves. I never realised it at the time but these are the cherished memories that inspired me and determined my life goals.

I have been lucky enough to meet many people over the years that have helped me achieve many accomplishments that I never would have thought possible. These people I see as mentors whom have shaped my understanding and fuelled my passion for Rural Industries in particular the dairy industry to which I am now devoted.

This passion began when Graham and Jane McPhee of Hillview Park Holsteins in Finley asked me to join them to help prepare their cattle for International Dairy Week. This annual event draws around 2000 head of cattle from across Australia. Not only are Jane and Graham the roots of my passion they have helped kick-start my own dairy herd by giving me the best gift ever – the pick of a calf from their calf pen. This calf Hillview Park AJK Eve was my first Holstein and foundation dam of my own Curramore Park Holstein stud.

I have found the dairy industry is full of people who are very keen to open doors and nurture new entrants and introduce you to others who share your passion.

One of these is Natalie Cochrane of Eagle Park who owns a dairy farm with her husband Tim at Terara just north of Nowra. After I began showing cattle with Natalie I began to fall in love with her signature breed – Illawarra cattle.

Whilst I had not grown up on the land I found there are plenty of farming people like Natalie who will work with you and show you the ropes and support you to live your dream. My little herd of registered Holsteins and Illawarra’s which now live at Terara on Tim and Natalie’s property continues to grow slowly between breeding and purchasing new genetics from local breeders.

As part of my involvement in the dairy industry I have been lucky enough to compete and succeed in youth events and attend shows across 5 states of Australia meeting many wonderful people along the way who have become friends for life.

My first trip to Sydney show saw me come home with a blue ribbon from competing in the Youth Challenge. This team orientated event involves a group of young people working together in a range of activities that show how well the team can prepare a team of cattle for judging at the show. I came home with a renewed sense of accomplishment and next year went one further winning the paraders class against others in my age group who had many more years experience.

One of my biggest achievements was mentoring the South Coast and Tablelands Youth Challenge team to our first ever representation at International Dairy Week and coming away with success. The smiles and excitement of the team after beating some of the best dairy youth in the country will stay with me forever.

Whilst breeding and showing dairy cattle first spiked my interest in the dairy industry, it is the diverse range of opportunities that agriculture provides which keeps me actively involved now.

My role in working with youth in agriculture is helping young people understand the important and pivotal role that farmers and agriculture play in our past, present and future. I also hope it is influencing them to realise the opportunities that agriculture and agricultural related fields can hold for them.

I have finished my studies- I have a Bachelor Degree in Agricultural Science majoring in Business through Charles Sturt University, and a Diploma in Financial Planning.

I am hoping to follow a career path in finance related to and working one-on-one with our farmers to develop their industries and operations to work to full capacity, as well as continuing to work with the next generation. I currently work for a Financial Institution (Horizon Credit Union) as I am developing my skills to eventually be a financial guide/business planner/financial planner for farmers, developing plans for their enterprises and properties moving forward.

I aim to specialise in Succession Planning and Share Farming in the hope of not only keeping the next generation of farmers on the land but also keep generations of farming history, skills and knowledge maintained by giving young people the opportunity to work on land without the need to buy the land they farm on.

 

The Showgirl movement is a huge part of where I am today and why I am where I am. After winning the Berry showgirl competition, I then made the top 15 in the state out of 650 young women from across NSW. From there it was off to the Sydney Royal Easter Show where I was awarded First Runner up in The Land Sydney Showgirl Competition.

Showgirl was always something I wanted to have a go at after seeing many inspiring young women from our area do well in the competition and witnessing how it helped them get to where they are today. I did not quite understand though just how many opportunities being involved in the competition held for me. The people I have met and networked with along the way will undoubtedly continue to be further influencers in helping me reach my full potential and allow me to give back to the community that has supported me.

The Showgirl competition has inspired me to get even more involved by recruiting and inspiring other young women to step outside their comfort zone and have a go, not only in Berry, but also judging for other show societies. I am now on the Berry show committee and very much aiming to be nominated next year to be the First Female President. I also use my position as a vehicle to share the great story of Australian farmers and agriculture with the community.

Most of all I want to be a real life example of the doors that agriculture can offer to exciting career pathways and inspire other young people who may have never considered a career in agriculture. Sadly when I was at school the consensus was and it still seems to be that many students are deterred away from considering tertiary education options by careers advisers due a perceived lack of opportunities and lack of money in the industry.

I want to debunk these misconceptions and promote the many facets of agriculture and career options not just on farm but the many people and businesses that support agriculture in rural communities.

Not coming off a farm makes me even more driven to prove that you do not have to be born on a farm in order to pursue and succeed in an agricultural field. There are exciting agriculture related careers and opportunities available to everyone.

 

Q&A with a dairy farmer
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