Couple’s goal of farm ownership

Share Farmers of the Year for Waikato, Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson. Photo: Catherine Fry.

Dairy Industry Awards’ Waikato region Share Farmers of the Year Steve Gillies and Amy Johnson have their sights firmly set on their goal of owning their own farm by 2028. The couple currently work on the 475-cow Tirau farm of Peter and Marian Van der Heyden, and will be 50/50 share milking on the same farm from June 2019.

Steve was born in Scotland, and was a qualified mechanic before coming to New Zealand in 2010. He’s worked on dairy farms ever since, progressing through the ranks. Amy is a Te Awamutu girl with a farming background, and has a Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in Agriculture. She currently works as an agri manager with ANZ, and assists on-farm with calving, relief milking and paperwork.

“If we are to own a farm by the time we are 40 we need to reduce debt and increase equity,” says Amy. “With me working off-farm, our investment in a 22ha runoff block, income from the house on it, and other investments, we should be on track for the 33 per cent equity required for our own property.”

In the meantime, they’re concentrating on the current farm. Last year, after a wet spring, followed by a dry spell, feed was brought in which was not used when it rained. Unfazed, the couple adjusted plans and adapted their situation to suit new circumstances.

“If you keep accepting what you have always done then you don’t get any better and get results,” says Steve. “Every season is a new game.”

The pair also received the DairyNZ Human Resources award at the DIA Waikato regional awards. They have two workers, Matt and Myles, and both are staying on next season.

“We are supportive of their goals, both personal and professional,” says Amy. “We strive for a good staff culture with social activities after work and at important times of the year.”

Their other award was the Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award. The judges were impressed with Steve and Amy’s level of understanding and commitment to this area.

“We are effectively caretakers of this land and the land around it,” says Steve. “It’s important that you do your bit.”

As well as concentrating on the plan for buying into the herd next season, the pair is also knee-deep in wedding plans.

“With this win, we are getting heaps of practice in for wedding photos,” says Amy.


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