Lachlan McKenzie shares his passion for farming, politics and travel
Lachlan McKenzie is well known in rural political circles as being an impassioned advocate for the rights of farmers. Unafraid to ask the difficult questions, Lachlan is adamant that any decisions that impact on farms and their communities should be based on sound economic principles and good science.
Lachlan and his wife Heather purchased their first farm in the King Country in the early 1980s, just before the rural downturn in agriculture. “Seeing farming families leaving their farms in the 80s with little more than a deposit on a house has left a lasting impression on how rules and controls outside of the farm can have devastating consequences. I find it disappointing that people outside farming continue to make rules that impinge our agriculture system without understanding the unintended consequences of such rules,” Lachlan says.
One of six children, Lachlan grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Piopio. Obtaining a Bachelor of Ag Science from Massey University, he went on to work for MAF as a Farm Advisory Officer in South Taranaki. In this role he assisted farmers to adopt the latest technologies and tools on their farms. Lachlan and his wife Heather moved to their current Kaharoa farm in 1994, converting the sheep and beef property to dairy. Twenty years on, they now milk 600 cows on 170 hectares of dairy pasture. The property also includes 120ha of native bush and 50ha of production forest.
Lachlan believes farming is one of the most complex businesses and for this reason he finds it both challenging and stimulating. For the modern farmer to be successful, they must be adept at many different disciplines.
“Farmers need to understand the biological process, be a stockman, the first call vet, have sound financial knowledge and have the ability to manage human resources. Our pastoral agriculture is a very complex system yet thousands of farmers make numerous decisions every day and mostly they instinctively understand their own farm system and make the right decisions” says Lachlan.
Lachlan’s entry into rural politics started out by accident. While attending Federated Farmers meetings his peers realised that with his background, education and tenacity, he had the ability to ask the pointed questions. With their support Lachlan moved from politics at a local level to Central Government level as Federated Farmers National Dairy Chairman.
“In a nutshell I suppose I try and look out for my fellow farmers and friends in my community by using the knowledge and skills that our great education system and community have provided me with” he says.
The McKenzies try and fit in overseas travel while still actively farming and with Heather running her travel agency from home. The experiences gained from visiting many countries further broadens their understanding of people and their cultures.