Thursday, 03 February 2022 11:55

Dairy sector kicks off campaign to attract more Kiwis to work on farms

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Shannon Munro says dairy farming offers many opportunities and a great lifestyle for her family. Shannon Munro says dairy farming offers many opportunities and a great lifestyle for her family.

A young East Coast farmer is the poster girl for a new dairy sector campaign to attract more locals to milk cows.

DairyNZ's 'Join Us' campaign aims to give Kiwis a better understanding of what it means to be a dairy farmers and attract locals to farms.

East Coast dairy farmer Shannon Munro has been dairy farming for about 10 years. In the campaign, she explains why dairy farming's the perfect job for her and her family.

The dairy sector has been struggling to find local staff. Efforts to bring in overseas staff have been hampered by a lack of MIQ rooms.

With her husband, Steve, and three children, Shannon Munro says they opted to move away from urban city life to provide a different upbringing for her young family.

"I grew up in the Northland countryside as a kid and moved to Te Puke when I was 11. I always had found memories of living in the country when I was growing up, and always planned to return one day," she says.

Steve was a builder, and after the birth of their first son, Benson, she says they agreed that a city lifestyle wasn't what they wanted for their family.

They moved from Te Puke to Ngakuru, a rural community in Rotorua Lakes, where Steve found a job as a farm assistant. With her son in tow, Shannon helped with calving and rearing the calves.

Over the next decade, as their family expanded, they progressed into farm manager and 2IC roles, and then into contract milking, moving around the country as opportunities came up, including farming in Canterbury and the Waikato.

"We are now about 30 minutes from Whakatane and are in our first year leasing a 66 ha dairy block, which was previously leased by Steve's parents," says Shannon.

"We bought their 170 herd as they purchased a dairy farm."

The land and location of the farm offers plenty of opportunities for Shannon to enjoy two of her favourite hobbies - hunting and fishing.

Shannon says their three kids, aged between 3 and 11, love being on the farm, riding motorbikes and being hands on. They especially enjoy making huts in the bush and staying at the family's glamping spot next to the creek.

"The kids can enjoy a lot of freedom on the farm. At the same time, they have lots to keep them busy and they're learning life skills they may not have otherwise learned in the city," she says.

The family is planning to stay on the farm for the next few years, but ultimately want to own their own small farm.

Shannon says that as a young, Māori woman she is proud to be presenting a different face to dairy farming and to be associated with the campaign to show people what dairy farming has to offer as a career.

"Dairy farming offers really great opportunities and a great lifestyle. There are lots of opportunities for people to progress quickly and it's very reqarding."

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle say the campaign is part of a wider project - Here for the Long Game - aiming to help communities understand what drives dairy farmers, and how they are working to provide a better future for their farms, the land, their families, their communities, and New Zealand. "Dairy farmers are a core part of the economic, social, and environmental wellbeing of communities throughout New Zealand, and our wider 'Here For the Long Game' is a platform for dairy farmerrs to share with other Kiwis who they are and what they do in a way that's open and fun," he says.

"Welcoming and supporting new farming talent is vital to the sector's long game, so we're excited to launch a new campaign encouraging young Kiwis to get into the dairy sector," he adds.

The Join Us campaign looks into daily life on a farm - from working with machinery and technology, to caring for animals and the land.

"It's about showing young Kiwis that, for those keen to get stuck in, dairying offers a truly rewarding career and lifestyle. By joining us, you're not only securing your own future, but becoming part of creating a better one for all New Zealanders," adds Mackle.

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