Like most farmers Thomas Chatfield has experienced ups and downs on his route to farm ownership. He just hopes that as well as being able to buy the farm and the cows he can afford some shares in the co-op.

The roller coaster ride that is dairy farming continues. Last column’s lease block was pulled from under me a few days after the last column – to say I was gutted and pissed off is an understatement. No good reason for pulling out was given by the landowner and in hindsight it may have been for the best, but for a few days I was pretty angry.

Getting to farm ownership isn’t easy and I know this but sometimes you just hope that some of the farm owners who are looking into retirement give some of the young passionate young farmers coming up a helping hand here and there when they are able.

That could be by giving someone a chance at sharemilking your farm or leasing land you no longer have the energy to run to someone like myself who is willing to bust their arse in pursuit of farm ownership.

As luck would have it when one door closes another opens and I think I have found someone who matches that description and once again for the second time this season am working through a lease contract with the hope of leasing land for next season.

Onfarm things continue moving forwards. With less than two weeks to go until the end of mating the early signs are that we have improved on last year’s results.

Production is up on last season and growth rates have been good, it looks like we will go into Christmas with plenty of good feed ahead of us. Looking back on my first two seasons the real opportunity to increase production here comes in the New Year when we lose quality and the heat limits intakes. So moving into 2020 we are working hard on maintaining quality and trying to keep a production curve as flat as we can.

Otherwise the farm has been boringly uneventful which I guess is what we work so hard in pursuit of.

I recently spent two days in Auckland at the Fonterra Know Your Co op course. I am normally pretty cynical about networking and anything else that might be considered along those lines. Don’t get me wrong, I’m like most farmers and like talking about my cows and how the season is going but beyond that I like to just keep to myself and work hard without getting too caught up in farming politics.

I was, however, really impressed with how they have listened to the feedback and growing unhappiness with the arrogance in the way they were operating and are now working to mend some of that damage.

I had always felt that Fonterra would dictate to farmers, which I saw as totally flying in the face of the fact that farmers own the company. It was stressed time and time again over the two days that they needed to own some of the mistakes made and move forward with the new strategy which included honesty and humbleness – two things that were definitely lacking in the past.

Overall, I was left feeling pretty optimistic about the future for Fonterra. As a young farmer looking to buy land and milk dairy cows I will one day hopefully be tasked with deciding whether or not to supply Fonterra or one of the growing number of competitors. I like the idea of a co-operative and a New Zealand-owned company. I just hope that I will be able to afford to do so and that on top of buying land and cows I will have enough money left to afford shares as well.