Tuesday, 06 February 2024 10:55

All in the family

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Takaka farmer Corrigan Sowman took over as LIC chair in October last year. Takaka farmer Corrigan Sowman took over as LIC chair in October last year.

Taking over the chairmanship of LIC feels like a generational responsibility for Tākaka farmer Corrigan Sowman.

The third-generation dairy farmer hails from a family that embraced animal breeding well before many other farmers.

Sowman’s grandparents had a pedigree herd of Friesians on their original 80ha farm, which has expanded to 400ha.

His parents were early adaptors of cross breeding.

“Today we have a really good herd of cows,” Sowman told Dairy News.

“So, to some degree it’s like a generational responsibility to carry that on – the opportunity to have this job and to carry on what my grandparents started in some ways.”

Sowman took over as LIC chair in October last year from Murray King. With chief executive David Chin completing his second year in the role this month, LIC has a relatively new top duo.

Sowman describes the job as a real privilege and one that come with a large degree of responsibility.

“We are in such interesting times with the pace of change,” he says.

“With a new CEO and a new chair, I guess it brings a slightly different flavour and voice to the sector. So, I’m really excited for the co-op.”

Sowman milks 700 cows on the self-contained property, rearing young stock and dairy beef as well.

He says these are challenging times for dairy farmers but adds that there is optimism in the sector.

The lower payout and rising input costs were signalled early and this allowed farmers to adjust their businesses accordingly.

“There’s certainly pressure out there, cashflow wise, and we are cognisant of that, but there’s a sense of optimism and confidence out there as well.”

The recent election contributed, but he also thinks there’s more clarity on things like emissions and the environment.

“People are saying, well I kind of know the roadmap now and I can see a path forward. That’s the sense I get, but still from a place of quite a lot of pressure.”

Late last year, Fonterra came out with its scope three emissions target – a 30% intensity reduction in on-farm emissions by 2030 – from a 2018 baseline.

Sowman, a member of Fonterra’s sustainable advisory panel for the past three years, has been privy to the co-op’s plans over the years.

He points out that it’s not an absolute, but an intensity target and different to the co-op’s scope one and two emissions target.

“The things about intensity and how it relates to LIC is that it’s really about efficiency. That’s what we do – it’s to help the NZ farmer be more efficient.

“Whether that be a better cow or that be better information to make a better decision on a daily basis.

“It could be MINDA records or could be Farm- Wise that we take a role in.”

Sowman thinks the target is quite a hurdle.

While the industry has had incremental improvements, it needs to double that rate to hit the target.

“It’s not just keep doing what we’ve been doing, we got to ramp it up a bit.”

Sowman says having as common target is also an important thing.

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