Someone said I couldn’t do it

Cambridge contract milker Chloe Mackle featured in February Dairy Exporter’s Young Country section and has joined the magazine’s team of Milking Platform contributors.

I can often be found declaring we work in the best industry in the world and I stand by that. The dairy industry employs 50,000 people in New Zealand, 70% of those on farms.

This year I was privileged to be on the Agri Women’s Development Trust’s leadership programme Escalator. As this draws to a close this month, I have been pondering on all the inspirational people I have networked with and formed lasting relationships with along the way. There is something special about coming together with people who share the same passion and drive to make the primary industries the best place it can be.

I love farming. I love nothing more than growing grass and watching the ladies turn that grass into milk, but I also recognise I need to grow my leadership skills to get new people into the industry. The generations before me have created great succession routes and I wonder how we will adapt to keep that legacy going.

As an Auckland city kid who ended up dairy farming because someone said I couldn’t do it, I was fortunate enough to work for phenomenal farmers who were tolerant, patient, and taught me to farm well and take good care of myself in the process. They collaborated with ‘the many hands that made the tall horse,’ they had good people on their ‘bus’. Whether its fellow farmers, accountants, bank managers, Dairy NZ consultants, fert reps, agronomists… The list goes on, we are fortunate to work in a sector with a wealth of knowledge and resources so easily available for us to tap into. Tapping into these networks and resources will mean being able to get specialist opinions when it comes to running an efficient and maximised business.

Not having to be an agronomist, a sire analyst, an electrician and a vet and so on enables me to have more of a helicopter view. It enables me to focus on milking my cows, growing lots of grass and trying to have a work- life balance that you would expect a school leaver contemplating farming to be happy with.

I think young people can accept long hours and early starts, but they need to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel; they need to see the rewards that can be had. I laugh as I write this because most people who know me well would say I have no issue getting off farm. But the issue is getting off farm mentally when off farm physically. In an attempt to stretch my brain in a different way this season and get off farm, I have chosen to take up horse riding lessons as my outlet. Being in Cambridge this seemed fitting.

I often find myself sitting on the back of the horse forgetting to put my heels down but pondering things such as: How do we make agriculture sexy? How do we attract school leavers out of Auckland who want to milk cows, grow grass and feed the world? How do we do this while remaining profitable, sustainable and efficient?

At the end of the day, the cups are still going to need to go on the cows. How are we going to attract people wanting to do it?