Awards help winners fine-tune

Newly-crowned Share Farmers of the Year Sarah and Aidan Stevenson are looking forward to their leadership roles over the next 12 months.
The Waikato sharemilkers say it’s an honour and privilege to be ambassadors of the NZ Dairy Industry Awards.

The Stevensons have been 50/50 sharemilking for Sarah’s mum, Sue Williams, on her 100ha, 330-cow Ngarua property since 2013. This season they have also leased a 230-cow farm nearby.

The main farm supplies Tatua Dairy Co-op in Tatuanui while the leased farm supplies Fonterra.

Sarah Stevenson says the win has boosted their credentials and also allowed them to fine tune their dairying business based on feedback from judges.

“We entered the awards as a challenge, to find out our strengths and weaknesses and build on feedback,” she told Dairy News.

They are looking forward to meeting other farmers, sponsors and industry stakeholders over the 12-month reign.

She says the dairy industry offers great opportunity for young people of all backgrounds.

Aidan moved to the dairy industry from building in 2011 and has completed Primary ITO Level 4.  Sarah holds a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in accounting and commercial law and has been a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand since 2014. The couple have three children.

Sarah says the traditional dairy farmer role has changed and it’s not just about milking cows.

“There are lots of opportunities for different people. As a farmer you perform so many roles, you are a vet, an agronomist, a builder, a businessperson,” she says.

The Stevensons believe the strengths of their business lie in drawing on their previous careers and life experience. They have a strong financial understanding and background, thanks to Sarah’s chartered accountant experience. 

“Aidan’s skills in building means we can consider diversified investments outside of the dairy industry, such as housing,” says Sarah.

She says as young farmers life on the farm is a learning curve.

The couple have learnt from their challenges along the way. The biggest challenge they are currently facing is embedding their policies and practices into the farm they began leasing in June this year.

“It has been a juggling act working out how to manage two positions without being in two places at the same time, but we’re getting there by placing trust in our team of staff and growing them with us,” Aidan says.

The couple are very proud they achieved a breeding goal when their first contract bull was purchased by LIC in December 2017 and he is currently being marketed in LIC’s Premiere Sires A2/A2 2020 bull team.

Sarah and Aidan love working outside with animals and enjoy the lifestyle farming offers their family. Future farming goals include a bigger sharemilking position or equity farming position leading to the ultimate goal of farm ownership.

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