West Coast/Top of the South Share Farmer of the Year Michael Shearer

West Coast/Top of the South Share Farmer of the Year Michael Shearer

Michael Shearer, along with his wife Cheryl, are celebrated for their significant achievements in the dairy farming industry, having been named Share Farmer of the Year at the West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards last month. 

The Shearers' success is not newfound; their journey in the industry spans over a decade, marked by their previous win as Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year and third place in the Dairy Trainee of the Year competition. Their story is one of resilience, dedication, and a clear vision for the future of farming. 

One of the critical elements of the Shearers' approach to farming is their partnership strategy in sharemilking, which Michael describes as "a bit of a halfway house to farm ownership." 

Their goal is to continue building equity and eventually own a farm. Shearer articulates this vision by stating, "So a couple more years building equity here and we'll be looking to purchase a farm." 

Michael and Cheryl's passion extends beyond their own success to include nurturing the next generation of farmers. He shares their involvement in tutoring for primary ITO and emphasises the importance of building relationships and providing young farmers with both practical and business skills necessary for success. 

"I think there's a huge gap in our industry bringing young people through... it would be really great to be able to be in a position to help [bring] them in," Shearer reflects, highlighting the potential and accessibility of farm ownership for those without familial assistance. 

Another significant point of the discussion is the Shearers' commitment to sustainable and profitable farming practices. 

He notes the importance of astute financial management, wittily commenting, "The best way to make money is to not spend it," which encapsulates their business philosophy. 

Their approach has been recognised by judges as running a "very tight ship," a testament to their efficient operations. Furthermore, Shearer discusses the often-overlooked aspect of mental wellness in the farming industry. He advocates for the necessity of giving one's mind a rest from farm work, a practice that has allowed them to make better decisions by conducting business planning when fresh, rather than exhausted in the evenings. 

"It's amazing how much that can help make better decisions," he shares, acknowledging the difference it made when they shifted to once-a-day milking. 

The conversation also touches upon the Shearers' ability to navigate natural disasters, such as fires and floods, with resilience. Shearer candidly speaks about the challenges and stresses associated with such events, yet he also finds a certain appeal in tackling adversity head-on. 

Despite enjoying the challenge, he acknowledges the prolonged aftermath, stating, "That stuff soon fades afterwards and the reality of the cost and the workload and whatnot sort of kicks in." 

Shearer expresses gratitude for the award and looks forward to the final competition in Queenstown, as well as the continued pursuit of their dream to own a farm.

Listen to the full chat between Michael Shearer and Dominic George above.

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