Big day for new dairy farmers
Fri, 01 Jun 2012 9:03a.m.
By Kim Choe
Today marks the beginning of the new dairy farming season, known as "gypsy day".
It's the day hundreds of farmers take thousands of cows on the road to start new milking contracts - and for some farmers, it marks the beginning of a new stage in their careers.
Craig and Brooke Littin will be busy moving their 300 cows to the paddocks where they will graze for the winter, but more significantly after 10 years as sharemilkers, they're also fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning their own farm.
“[With] sharemilking you're operating other people's properties. I think it's no different to living in town and owning your own house, it's nice to have something of your own,” says Craig Littin.
The couple say it has been a long, hard road - every financial decision they've made in the last decade has had their end goal in mind.
“When our friends and family were working Monday-Friday and off on holidays and things we were at home, working hard,” says Brooke.
Sharemilking has traditionally been the pathway to farm ownership.
Sharemilkers own their own cows, but use someone else's land and milking shed - splitting the profits.
It's becoming more expensive for young sharemilkers to take the step into farm ownership, and one agribusiness expert says that's not good for the dairy industry.
“These are the people who put in the long hours. They can see what they're building in front of them, and they can see that their hours are translating into good fences, into riparian strips, having to put in the new technologies that allow their businesses to develop so they can capitalise on what the world wants, which is good quality milk protein,” says Waikato University professor Jacqueline Rowarth.
But Ian Scott, who's been farming for thirty years, says the hurdles for young farmers are only getting higher - especially with milk prices on the world market now at a three-year low.
“Because older farmers are under financial pressure they're not able to move into a system where they give away half their income to an up and coming sharemilker. They have to continue to put in the hours themselves, they can't stand back and go to the beach, or whatever used to be the past-time,” says Mr Scott.
The Littens won't be spending much time at the beach either, but they wouldn't have it any other way.
“It's nice to be settled in the same place and know where our kids are going to go to school, and not have to uproot them and move somewhere else,” they say.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
While Coliseum says it's focused on football, could they cha...
A pilots' group says the fill from a proposed second Mt Vict...
The way we watch televised sport is about to undergo a major...
A severe cold snap is expected to hit the South Island today...
ANZ says it's been targeted with a class action lawsuit beca...
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.