High expectations met by North Island Farming to Succeed programme

Daniel Baker says this year’s North Island Farming to Succeed programme has shown him that farm ownership is possible for his generation. Daniel is currently a sole charge farm manager milking 280 cows near Te Awamutu for the Ferris family.

“I’ve been dairy farming since I left school at 16,” says the 28 year old. “I grew up with an agricultural background in sheep and beef, rearing calves, dairy farming and my father’s agricultural contracting business. I chose to go into dairy because of lifestyle reasons.”

He was motivated to apply for Farming to Succeed after hearing good things about the programme from previous attendees.

“People said it really opens your eyes and makes you think,” he says. “I heard from a few people who’d gone and they said it was an amazing course and that it had what I needed to help me progress. I was absolutely stoked I was accepted. I had already organised the week off with my boss as soon as I applied so I could go.”

His high expectations were met by his experience at the course.

“It was absolutely awesome. The information that was presented was really relevant and made you think about where you could get to and what you could do. As a package it was all really useful.”

AgITO’s Farming to Succeed programme sponsored by FIL New Zealand runs once yearly over five days, during which participants go through a structured series of workshops, farm visits and discussion groups.

Participants work with course facilitator Grant Taylor and other leading agribusiness practitioners to explore the key ingredients required for the achievement of personal and business success. Only 25 people are accepted to each course.

Topics covered include career development, staged capital growth and asset management, goal setting and motivation, successful business partnerships, financial development, time management and managing stress.

There are no course fees for Farming to Succeed thanks to FIL who have sponsored Farming to Succeed and its predecessor Bound to Succeed for the last eight years.

Daniel and the rest of this year’s participants visited the Fonterra factory at Te Rapa, Innovation Park in Hamilton and the FIL factory in Tauranga as well as a number of top performing farms to find out more about how to succeed in agriculture.

“We visited a chicken farm, goat milking farm and beef farm. Coming from a dairy background it’s good to see there are other options. It makes you realise you can’t have blinkers on and that you need to look at all opportunities.”

Daniel was impressed with facilitator Grant Taylor’s passion for his role.

“He’s the right person for the job. He’s got a lot of passion for what he does and helping the next generation to get ahead.”

Daniel will soon have leg surgery and will miss four months of work while he recovers. Attending Farming to Succeed has enabled him to think of a solution to cover his work whilst he is off.

“It was looking not possible before the course but I’ve come back positive and implemented something to make it work,” he says. “I was looking at taking the season off but I went out and found someone not settled for next season and they are coming up to cover for me over that time. I’ve also got a relief milker to finish off this season for me.”

Daniel has his eye firmly on the future and knows exactly how he’s going to achieve his career goals.

“I want to get into an equity partnership by going through the lower order contract milker route and progress to 50/50 sharemilking,” he says. “Farming to Succeed helped show me that the end goal is possible. It seems like farm ownership is getting away from my generation but actually seeing the figures and talking to people who’ve done it there are ways to make farm ownership happen.”

Daniel is currently enrolled in AgITO’s National Diploma in Agribusiness Management (Level 5) and is set on completing as much work towards it as possible whilst he’s off work recovering.

“The information I’ve got through doing the diploma you don’t learn on the farm,” he says. “It’s a piece of paper that really opens doors, these days you need more than farming experience alone to get the top job and be ahead of next person.

“I think people should up skill because the way the industry is going you need to be gaining information or you’re going backwards. Short courses like AgITO’s Milk Quality and Effluent Management are available which are designed to be relevant and keep you up with what is happening in the industry.”

Daniel is quick to recommend Farming to Succeed to others looking to get ahead.

“I absolutely recommend it. I’ve talked to a few people about it and told them when it comes up next year to go for it.”