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Terry and Lisa Yates: Running the Support Block

In the Maharahara District just south of Dannevirke township, you will find the dairy support block of Terry and Lisa Yates. Terry and Lisa are long-time dairy farmers who have experienced the highs and lows of the industry. With Terry working in the sector for around 46 years, he shines a light on how different dairy farming is today in comparison with how it was when he was growing up.

Terry and Lisa Yates are very hospitable individuals who value family, travel, and the outdoors. Mangatainoka, just north of Pahiatua, is where Terry was born and bred. It is also the place where Terry bought his first dairy farm off his parents at age 21. Throughout their time in farming, they continued to progress and have now been running their support block in Dannevirke for 11 years. It was finally time for Terry to get out of the dairy shed and he now manages the whole dairy support operation.

“We graze all young stock from the dairy farms plus some Hereford beef stock and dry stock. We cut supplements off for the purpose of the dairy operation,” Terry said.

Altogether, Terry and Lisa run two support blocks and three dairy farms. Their smaller support block is in Woodville, which Terry and Lisa have owned for 16 years. Together, the two support blocks equate to 240 hectares, and the three dairy farms consist of 300 hectares in total. They have three contract managers along with their partners who look after each of the farms and do the hands-on work. Across the farms, there are 820 dairy cows and another 650-700 replacements in dry stock which consists of beef and bulls.

Terry has been farming since leaving school in 1975, acknowledging that he may be considered a “little bit long in the tooth”. After being in the industry for five years, Terry became an owner and operator in 1980. With the long-term experience that Terry has acquired in dairy farming, he mentioned that the industry has changed so much from when he was younger.

“When I started, you could write a book on dairy farming. You would first work for wages, then you went lower order sharemilking and then the next stage, 50/50 sharemilking. After that, you'd be lucky enough to buy a property and then progress from there. You can’t really do that now, you’ve just got to take it as it comes,” Terry said.

“It’s still a great opportunity to get into farming, but it is damn hard work and opportunities don’t come along every day. It is doable but it is getting a little bit harder with everything, like people buying their first house or getting into farming now.”

Terry has expressed his concerns around the difficulty of governmental consents and the stigma associated with dairy farmers. He isn’t too confident as to what is going to happen next for the dairy farming community.

“Dairy farming increase in production is not going to be there. I think we’re going to lose herds all the way along. It’s going to get to a stable base where it’s not really going to move much beyond that. I don’t know how many farms will be owned by individuals, it may well be owned by corporates. Not like the norm of what I’ve been through, it’s not going to be like that as much.”

That aside, dairy farming has always been great for Terry and Lisa. When Terry was dairy farming first-hand, he enjoyed the freedom of working outdoors and looking after the stock.

Terry has been dealing with Goldpine Dannevirke for over 15 years. He mainly requires fencing products, wire, posts and rails – “anything wood”. Terry believes in the quality of the product and the service that Goldpine provides. “They are good people to deal with, very easy-going and always approachable,” Terry said.

If Terry isn’t overseeing his support block, he enjoys travelling alongside his wife, Lisa. Although a lot of travel has been put on hold throughout the country and overseas, they do relish the opportunity of visiting family close by.

With the ongoing changes placed on farmers, Terry and Lisa have still managed to maintain a successful business and we’re looking forward to following their future endeavours.