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Young Country: Amy Anderson

Young Country: Amy Anderson

Young Farmers are the future of New Zealand agriculture, so each month we shine a spotlight on a young farmer. Today we chat to Amy Anderson from Pendarves Young Farmers Club.

1. What is the name of your club, and how long have you been a member?

I am a member of Pendarves Young Farmers club, I joined the club in December 2022 and became club secretary in November. I have loved every minute of my role so far and my involvement in the club as a whole.

2. What has been the highlight for you of joining Young Farmers? What are the benefits and experiences that you feel have helped you most?

The highlight for me from joining Young Farmers had to be attending grand final season 55. It was great to go and support Peter O’Conner, a member of the Pendarves club, as well as all the other participants. I loved getting to see such a huge group of people all ecstatic with the outcome and Emma Poole making history being the first female to win FMG young farmer of the year.

Joining young farmers has benefited me massively with the friendships I’ve made and has truly made New Zealand my new home. Attending fundraisers and various trips has helped me become part of the local community and increased my confidence massively with public speaking and trying new things. Becoming club secretary helped improve my communication skills and has had me talking with some truly incredible people I may not have met otherwise.

3. How did you become involved in agriculture?

The honest answer to this question is that I went out on a whim, up until I was 14 I had dreamed of being a midwife, I always loved biology in school and watched call the midwife regliously despite my parents’ annoyance. However, after not doing as well as I hoped in school and hating being inside all day I decided to give dairy a go. I grew up in rural England and had farming family who up until 2019 had only been beef and sheep farmers, there were multiple dairies in my area and I had always loved watching the cows come in for milking. Around the time I was considering joining the industry the dairy farm in the village was put up for sale and after some deliberation my cousins bought it, getting me my first milking job. I learnt alongside them how to run a dairy farm, we milked 80 cows in an 8/16 herringbone parlour, with original milk jars and no fancy technology, it was certainly an experience for us all. From there my mum pushed me to go to college where I did a level 3 advanced technical diploma in agriculture at Reaseheath, a three-year course with a placement year in the middle. During my placement year I moved to a different county and milked 800 cows on an organic autumn calving system. I did some calf rearing, grass management, got a foot trimming and ai qualification, some machinery work and attended discussion groups. I stayed with that family for 2 years whilst completing my college diploma and I learnt a lot from them. Jonathan and Alistair my bosses there had both worked for my current boss Tom, 8 years prior and pushed me to come to New Zealand which I am forever grateful for.  After a very quick phone call to Tom, I did exactly as he said, I booked my flight and got a visa with no idea what I was coming to just that I had a job and a place to live.

4. What is your job now? Tell us about your role, and what your journey has been like so far.

I now manage youngstock at Henbook Farms Ltd, a 1500 cow spring calving farm with 360 hectares in Dorie, with a 70-point rotary with no automatic cup removers.

My role is to rear all stock up to point of calving or 2 years of age, I do all the calf rearing solo feeding once a day and manage the youngstock block moving fences, making a grazing plan, running irrigation and feeding out when needed.

My journey so far has been nothing less than incredible, to have travelled to the other side of the world at 19 alone and learnt a whole new way of farming has truly solidified my dreams of being in the industry and my future career. I was only meant to come to New Zealand for one year but within two weeks I was telling my family I want to move here permanently. It has been amazing to then have my parents come to visit and understand why I fell in love with not only my job but this country as a whole. They have been so supportive with my plans and despite the fact they miss me immensely they are happy I’m doing what I love. I have only worked with Tom for 18 months but within that time he has consistently increased my responsibilities on the farm and helped me improve my skills and knowledge within the sector. He is an amazing boss who I hope to work with for a long time.

5. What do you think the future of farming will look like, and what would you like to see happening in New Zealand agriculture going forward?

Coming to New Zealand has shown me that the agricultural industry here is much more respected than it is in the U.K and across a lot of Europe. Towards the end of school, I was subject to a lot of distaste over my career choice, people often told me farmers were stupid and that being part of agriculture wasn't an ambition I should have. I hope the future of farming will see that put to rest across the entire world and people will truly understand where food comes from.

Farming is not something that i consider a job, but rather a lifestyle. The passion and commitment that goes into this career is insane and deserves more recognition.

I hope to see the future of farming put real value to produce what we create, whilst continuing to move forward and embrace new technologies that could help the industry, keeping the health of our stock a top priority.

6. What are your future plans?

My future plans are to stay in this area and hopefully become a share or contract milker with the dream of at least owning my own cows one day and hopefully a farm.

7. Who has been your biggest inspiration in agriculture, and why?

This question took some thinking about! I couldn’t choose just one, everyone within this industry is an inspiration to me as this is a job you truly have to love to do. The Hughes family who I previously worked for in the UK inspired me to push myself to learn everything I could and challenge myself daily, they put me outside of my comfort zone and are ultimately the reason I got to New Zealand. My current boss Tom inspires me to keep improving myself with his drive and trust in me to do what I do every day; he has faith in me and gives me more responsibility than I dreamed for in such a short employment period.

However all though they are not part of agriculture themselves my parents have to be my biggest inspiration as they pushed me to be whatever I wanted to be unapologetically and not stop until my dreams come true. They have supported me no matter what and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them, especially if my mum hadn’t forced me to go to college against my will. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have had without it and although at the time I wasn’t happy with her about the decision I am forever grateful for it now and can’t thank her enough.