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The low-down on dairying

14 May 2019

Old Boy and dairy farmer Alex Irvine answered some probing questions about the reality of dairying in an in-depth Q&A with Year 13 Agribusiness students on Wednesday 8 May.

Alex’s family own three farms in Springston and one in Rakaia, in total about 2000 hectares, with a herd of 3500 cows across the four farms. It is a large operation, heavily invested in dairying, yet mindful of the issues the industry faces.

In a free-ranging interview, Alex answered questions about cashflow, budgets, markets and Fonterra payouts, financial targets, technology, strategic planning, environmental management, biosecurity, health and safety, human resources, risk management, legal issues, and the benefits of being a farmer.

Alex says some of the biggest expenses in running a farm include staff wages, equipment repairs and maintenance, and investing in new technology. “Farming – agriculture – is one of the biggest sectors of the New Zealand economy. Owning a farm is not just about the here and now, we’re always thinking of and investing for the future.”

Along with working on the family farm, Alex also wants to create his own business legacy and has set up a small milk processing company, Canterbury’s Choice, to supply full cream milk to restaurants and cafes in Christchurch.

Alex was invited to talk to the boys by Agribusiness teacher Mike Field, as part of a project looking at future proofing strategies and managing risk to ensure longterm viability of a business.

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