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Lachlan McKenzie TestimonialLachlan McKenzie shares his passion for farming, politics and travel

Lachlan McKenzieLachlan 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.
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.[expand title=”Read more” trigclass=”maggie” rel=”fiction”]

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.[/expand]

 

John ButterworthJohn Butterworth – inheriting the family’s passion for Rotorua, farming and hunting.
Born and bred farmer John Butterworth is a true product of Rotorua.  He began his life in the hills of Mamaku and has returned there to the family land where he sharemilks on his parents, Jack and Shelley Butterworth’s Forest Gate Farm. His maternal side of the family, the Heathers have farmed their land Awarua Farm on the side of Mt Ngongotaha since 1922. “Our family farms mean a great deal to us all”. Along with a passion for farming John has inherited several other strong family genes.[expand title=”Read more about John” trigclass=”maggie” rel=”fiction”] John began his farming career at Taratahi College in 2004 completing Level 4 Certificate in Sheep and Cattle Farming, followed by a Diploma in Agribusiness Management through AGITO in 2009.  His first job was on Mangamingi Station, a 3700ha property south of Rotorua. During his time there he rose through the ranks from farm trainee to Stock Manager, recognition of his keen eye for stock and pasture management. “At this job I learnt how to work hard, manage a large team of staff and manage up to 42 mobs of stock – dairy farming is easy!”

Having identified that his goal of farm ownership was a difficult pathway in the sheep and beef sector John decided to go dairying. When the opportunity arose to go sharemilking on Forest Gate Farm John realised a dream of being his own boss.

John is the current Federated Farmers Sharemilker Subsection Chairman for Rotorua/Taupo, utilising that political gene he has inherited. He is a vocal advocate for his sector ensuring their concerns and rights as business owners are heard by Local and Regional Authorities. John’s contribution to his sector extends to the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards which he has co-convened with Shelley for the last two years. Having entered the awards in 2011 to gain a “free independent review of my business”, he went onto win the Central Plateau Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year in 2012, backed up with runner-up at the National Awards. “This competition enabled me to fast track my business confidently. I gained a better insight into every aspect of my business and came away with a clear future pathway”.

Last season John milked 600 cows on 200 ha and produced 251,000kg milk solids supplying Open Country Dairy. Farm systems are flexible to react to and match payouts.  In addition to the home farm, John purchased his own 64ha runoff in 2013 and leases land within the catchment.

Unsurprisingly John’s new hobby is land based and the result of another inherited gene, horses. Twice a week from April to August John hunts, a seasonal sport that dovetails in with his farming calendar. Seeing the countryside at high speed while clearing wire fences fuels the adrenaline rush John enjoys about the sport, along with the company and the etiquette.  He jokes that the feed bill for the horses would equate over time to a deposit on a farm, however maybe that investment has already paid off for him, as it was on the hunt field he met his partner Nicole Way.

John is realistic about the challenges that lie ahead for the dairy sector.

“You just have to look at the payout history; it has been very volatile for a number of years now. This is the lowest payout we have had in 8 years.  What makes it harder than eight years ago is that costs have skyrocketed since then. What we can do is assess our farm system and the cost structure that operates the system and see if we can rebalance things so we stay profitable”.[/expand]