Home' Otago Southland Farmer : September 7th 2012 Contents 20
model. ''We have
control of our
product from the
farm gate to the
Fed Farmers president has plans
Russell MacPherson is the new voice for Southland farmers. Otago Southland Farmer reporter Diane Bishop talks to him about his
aspirations and his plan to convert another dairy farm.
Second conversion planned: Heifers grazing on the Tussock Creek property which will eventually be converted to dairy.
Married to Carol
Three adult children: Emma, 24,
Rachel, 22 and James, 18.
Currently Federated Farmers
Former Southland dairy section
Employs contract milkers to
milk his 680 cows at Centre Bush
Plans to convert his run-off at
Tussock Creek into a dairy farm
milking 500 cows within five
Young intelligent people are the
future of farming.
That's the view of Federated
Farmers Southland president
Russell MacPherson who backs
the farm succession model 100 per
''Intergenerational farming will
drive New Zealand's wealth,'' he
The outspoken Centre Bush dairy
farmer took over as president in
May, a year after he was
appointed head of the dairy
section and vice-president of the
He wants to encourage young
intelligent people to choose farm-
ing as a career, reconnect urban
and rural communities and stop
more rules and regulations being
forced upon farmers.
Raised on a farm at Spring Hills,
Russell was always destined to go
He and wife Carol borrowed to the
hilt to buy their first farm at
Centre Bush, on which they ran
3500 ewes and 800 hoggets.
For 18 years they rode the highs
and lows of the sheep industry
before deciding they'd had
The MacPhersons made the
decision to convert their 215
hectare sheep farm into a high
producing dairy unit in 2004, an
option Russell had mulled over in
''In the end it came down to pure
economics,'' he said.
''I'd always liked the Fonterra
model, where we have control of
our product from the farm gate to
The decision to convert was tough
but Russell knows he made the
right call with production increas-
ing from 400 kilograms of sheep
meat per hectare to 1400kg of
dairy products per hectare.
The MacPhersons employ con-
tract milkers Dale Turnock and
Kathy Griffiths, who have been
with them since the start of the
''I put the cups on the first cow,
but then I told Dale 'this is what I
hired you for'.
''If you've got a good man let him
do it -- I believe too many cooks
spoil the broth,'' Russell said.
This season they will milk 680
cows, close to their peak of 700,
but cow numbers are likely to
drop back to 600 in the future.
''We've got good genetic cows, but
we're not feeding them well
enough to realise their genetic
While Russell is hands-off in the
dairy shed, he likes to be involved
in the rearing of his young stock
on the 180ha run-off he owns at
Tussock Creek, east of Winton.
He bought the property in 2008,
where he also winters his cows,
and is currently developing it
with the aim of milking 500 cows
off it within the next five years.
Russell is excited about the
prospect of converting another
''I enjoy land development and the
conversion process, but how
quickly it happens will depend on
the (milksolids) payout.''
He is keen to include his family in
the project and it's likely his
daughter Emma and her husband
William will run the Tussock
''Our parents backed us when we
went farming so now I want to
give our kids a helping hand.''
Russell believes it would have
been a lot harder to achieve farm
succession under a sheep and beef
farming regime, but now he has
the opportunity to put his three
kids on farms and retire on a
''New Zealand's wealth is based
on family units and it's important
we value family farms.''
Dairy farming has allowed Rus-
sell more time for his off-farm
interests and he spends about
three days a week immersed in
Federated Farmers business.
As part of this role he has been
promoting agriculture as a career
to secondary school students.
''It's something I really enjoy.
''If I achieve anything, it's to
reconnect our rural and urban
communities,'' he said.
Going forward, Russell believes
water quality and storage for
irrigation and stock water will
become a major issue for South-
He believes production could be
improved with better drainage.
''We need to lift our game in
drainage and mole ploughing for
the greatest environmental
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