Monday, 14 May 2018 09:33

Browns win gold for sustainability

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Matamata farmers Edward (Wynn) and Tracy Brown with Fonterra chairman John Wilson (centre). Matamata farmers Edward (Wynn) and Tracy Brown with Fonterra chairman John Wilson (centre).

Matamata farmers Edward (Wynn) and Tracy Brown are the inaugural winners of the Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award.

The award was presented at the NZ Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) in Invercargill last Saturday.

The Browns are considered leaders within the dairy industry, in all areas of sustainability, business and farm management, as well as in the way they give back to the industry and community.

Wynn and Tracy own a 320ha 700-cow farm near Matamata, with a further 30ha leased from their neighbour.  Their property bears the name “Tiroroa”, which means ‘extensive view’ or ‘view to the future’.  

“Our aim is to run an economically and environmentally sustainable dairy farming business maximising production while minimizing footprint,” say the couple. “We like to take the meaning of Tiroroainto consideration with all our decision-making,” says Wynn.

The Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award recognises dairy farmers who are demonstrating leadership in their approach to dairying, have proven results and are respected by their farming peers and their community.  They are future-focused while also being proactive with addressing the opportunities and challenges of today.

The award is open to any milk supplying farmer in NZ; the inaugural winner was selected by a panel of judges.

NZDIA executive chair RachelBaker says the Browns encompass all of the criteria through their vision, guiding principles and actions.

“Responsible dairying is a way of conducting a farm business where actions and results demonstrate responsibility and sustainability.”

“The management and performance of people, farming system, finances, animal care and ecosystem are all important pillars of Responsible Dairying, and Wynn and Tracey demonstrate these through their actions on a daily basis,” says Baker.

The Browns have proven results in leading and managing their teams with three Share Farmer of the Year finalists coming from their farm. 

“We lead by example.  We are passionate about industry and are involved with lots of different aspects of it and encourage our staff to do the same,” says Wynn.

“We usually employ people for two or three seasons and help them progress to the next position.

“We need to make dairying ‘sexy’ and attractive as an industry, and attract good, smart people.  Avoiding burn-out and ensuring staff are well-connected and supported will aid retention of good people within the dairy industry.”

The couple aim to enhance, contribute, add value and give back to their community and are involved in various ways;  Wynn is the deputy chair for the Piako Catchment Farmer Engagement Group and a LIC Shareholders Councilor while Tracy is chair of the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Forum, a trustee of Dairy Women’s Network, a farmer rep for the Dairy Environment Leadership Group and a member of the Dairy Industry Strategy ‘Dairy Tomorrow’ working group.

The couple believe that they are only caretakers of the land for future generations and want to leave it in better condition than when they took it on.  

“We want to leave a legacy,” says Wynn.

“Sustainable farming is about ‘walking the walk’ not just ‘talking the talk’, it’s about what you do when no-one is looking.

“It’s also about not just living for the here and now, but about thinking for the future and those that will come after you.”

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