22 Aug 2014

Farming's First Couple

From Country Life, 9:29 pm on 22 August 2014

Jody and Charlie McCaig web Jody and Charlie McCaig.

Six years ago Charlie McCaig’s only interaction with cows had been being chased by some as he walked his dog.

He had an office job in the UK and spent his days staring at a computer screen. 

This year Charlie and his wife Jody were named New Zealand’s sharemilker/equity farmers of the year at the National Dairy Industry Awards. 

Jody, who is a New Zealander, met Charlie on her OE. They travelled back to New Zealand and started looking for city jobs. But when they decided to do a bit of relief milking as a stop-gap, their lives took another direction.

They quite liked the idea of farming and the opportunities it presented.

Three years ago Charlie and Jody thought they’d see if they were meeting the grade and entered the Farm Manager of the year competition.

They won the regional title and came second in New Zealand.

Then last year, knowing the farm they’d been milking on would interest the judges, they competed in the Sharemilker category.

They’d been working on the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust Farm. The farm’s owned by Origin Energy and has an on-shore gas production station in the middle of the farm.  Origin leases the farm to the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust.

“So the trust employed us as their sharemilkers and all the profits from the farm go off to paying for rugby clubrooms and uniforms and coaching in Taranaki.” Jody says.

The young couple has just bought 250 cows, moved farm and entered a 50/50 sharemilking arrangement.

Charlie loves life as a dairy farmer.  He says farmers are supportive and keen to share their knowledge.

“As an industry to start a business in it’s fantastic because say if you went to town and started a clothes shop, you’ve got to worry about who is going to be your customer and how you are going to beat the guy down the road, but as dairy farmers we’ve got a guaranteed purchaser of our product so you just have to focus on being good at making it.”

dairyCharlie with one of the prizes and not a bad back-drop; the view from the shed!