Tuesday, 30 March 2021 07:55

Good mentors key to success

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Rachel Foy says she chose farming because of the career development opportunities and ability to grow equity. Rachel Foy says she chose farming because of the career development opportunities and ability to grow equity.

Rachel Foy's interest in dairying started when, as a 12-year-old, she started relief milking during her school holidays.

Twenty-nine-year-old Foy is now in her seventh season as a dairy farmer, contract milking for the Lumsden family on their Huntly farm.

Along the way, she has collected two presitigious awards: the Auckland Hauraki Dairy Farm Manager of the Year in 2017 and this month was named the region's Share Farmer of the Year.

Foy, who grew up on a lifestyle block, says she chose farming as her career because of the career development opportunities and ability to grow equity.

"Not only do I live the cows and the people in the industry, but it gives the opportunity to run my own business, manager multi-million dollar farms and employ staff."

The 300ha farm is owned by Malcolm and Eileen Lumsden and their son Roger and his wife Roanne.

As the contract milker, Foy receives a fixed rate for every kgMS, so milk production is key - with each season depending on the mercy of the weather gods.

Her company Grass to Gold Ltd employs three full-time staff and one part-timer.

Foy says her success proves that young people, who don't come from dairy farming families, can carve out a career in the industry.

It's about having good mentors, great staff and supportive farm owners.

"My advice to young people is to have a good mentor and take all the opportunities that come your way," she told Dairy News.

"For me, on a farm this size having a good team is critical... I'm fortunate to have good mentors, farm owners and great staff."

Being a young, single female has provided constant challenges for Foy when she was trying to get ahead. She believes people are a strength of her business.

Foy holds a Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University and has future farming goals - including growing equity through farming and non-farming investments and land ownership.

"I'd like to continue to be more involved within the dairy industry and community through educating and showcasing dairy farming in a positive light to school students and the public," she says.

"I wish I could change the New Zealand public's perception of the dairy industry and farmers and help them to understand how important dairying is for New Zealand."

Priceless Experience

Stephanie Walker.

The 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Stephanie Walker says the awards process has provided her with invaluable networking.

"It has been priceless to be able to surround myself with like-minded individuals. The awards have been amazing and have provided incredible opportunities for my career."

Walker has been farming for five years. She is in her first year managing the 218ha Kauri Moor farm in Huntly, milking 615 cows.

With an urban background, Walker says she was unaware of the variety of jobs within the rural sector.

"I have always been involved with large animals since taking a liking to horses at a young age," she says. "I originally went to university to become a vet but changed after my first year to agriculture science."

Walker reckons the future of the New Zealand dairy industry looks bright and she is pleased that urban schools are becoming more aware of farm life.

"Fonterra operating milk for schools and open gate farm days allows young people like me to question more about our industry and discover the opportunities it presents," she says. "I look forward to seeing more younger people enter the industry."

Walker identifies Kauri Moor's environmental focus as a strength of the business.

"It gives the next generation the best chance of being able to enjoy the farming lifestyle like I have been fortunate to do," she adds.

"Evolving technology is another strength of our farm. From milk quality to feeding levels, the farm is always looking at ways to improve technology to make better decisions on farm."

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