Rotorua Weekender: Much more than title to be gained

By Cherie Taylor

Networking with others in the dairy industry and feedback from the judges is what lower order sharemilkers Bev and Rob Urquhart hope to gain from taking on the Dairy Industry Awards.

The Rainbow Mountain sharemilkers are among 14 local farmers who have entered the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year section of the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards vying for a spot to represent the region at the national finals being held in Wellington in May.

From the region, there are also 11 farm managers and 27 dairy trainees taking part in the competition with judging due to start on farms later this month.

The Urquharts entered the dairy industry in 2006 through the DairyNZ Go Dairy programme and haven't looked back, saying they love the lifestyle which allows them more time together and with daughter Maddie, now 13.

Two seasons ago they began sharemilking for Tony and Nerene Lynskey milking 320 cows on 120ha of land at Rainbow Mountain.

They entered the regional Manager of the Year section of the awards in 2011, walking away from the finals with the Vet Club Animal Husbandry and Animal Health merit award.

Bev says they have entered the awards this year because the feedback they received from judges has helped them immensely in their business and they want to get ahead.

"The feedback from judges last time was incredible. They show you how you can achieve in areas you weren't so good on ... you also get to meet some amazing people in the industry and make friends with other farmers who have entered."

Entering last time helped them stay focused, she says.

"It pushed us a lot and offered us a few different ideas to think about. That sort of information and support is so valuable. To hear from people that have done it is great because really we are quite new to the industry."

Prior to 2006, Rob drove trucks and Bev was a Work and Income case manager for 10 years.

Rob loves not having to travel to work.

"I love being outside and being with the animals. It's different every day," he says.

While most farmers dream of eventual farm ownership, this couple know their limitations and plan to buy a rental property by 2015 for their retirement.

Their aim is have their own herd by 2018.

"We don't see it as a negative thing not being able to buy our own farm. It's just not an achievable thing for us right now," Bev says.

"We've had to do this on our own and with family help ... we'd like to own our own herd in the future though. You need a decent herd to make money ... Rental properties are more achievable for us. Unless we win Lotto of course. We'd like to have our first home by next year. We are setting goals."

Meanwhile, they are focusing on the upcoming awards and judging due to start on farms.

They know it's going to be difficult showcasing the farm with it so dry at the moment.

"It's tough out there at the moment which will make it hard for judging. We will just have to explain how we are coping and do the best we can."

The regional winners of the awards will be announced next month with the winners from each of the three categories going to the national competition in Wellington on May 24.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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