Maruia 'Caretakers' Take West Coast Dairy Title

Published date12 April 2023
Publication titleWest Coast Farming Times, The
Ricky and Maria Johnson were announced winners of the region's Share Farmer of the Year Category at the annual awards dinner held in Shantytown in mid-March. The other big winners were Gurpreet Singh, who was named the 2023 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Ireland Cain, the 2023 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year

The Johnsons are 50/50 share milkers on Robb and Jane Macbeth's 194ha Maruia farm milking 420 cows. They won $8000 in prizes and three merit awards.

"We entered the Awards for the first time over 15 years ago and we entered again this year after hearing about the changes and it's been well worthwhile so far," they say.

"The feedback and taking the time to look at how and why we do things has made us think about where we are going and how we are going to get there." The couple's family are now young adults and they say their biggest success was being able to bring their family up on a farm and having a tight family unit.

Ricky and Maria cite their team as one of the biggest strengths of their business.

"We have a great crew with Kerrin being with us for six seasons and Isaac for three seasons. Being able to retain staff is awesome and makes life and the farm much easier." The weather - be it drought or flood - has proved challenging for Ricky and Maria, as has sending their boys away to college due to living remotely.

A positive attitude helps during the harder times, with their animals providing motivation.

"Cows are amazing and it's a great life on the farm," Ricky said. "It's great to be able to be able to work and have family around while you do." Future farming goals include farm ownership on the West Coast. "We're excited about the future of Westland Milk and supplying quality milk to the them. They produce fantastic products and we may be a bit bias, but we think they produce the best butter in the world," say the couple.

"There is nothing quite like going to the supermarket and seeing a product on the shelf that you helped produce." The runner-up in the Share Farmer category is 35-yearold Hamish Morrison, who is contract milking for Brent Morrison on his 155ha, 406-cow Rai Valley property.

The former land surveyor is in his sixth season on the family farm and is in his second season contract milking.

He won $4040 and one merit award.

Third placegetter in the Share Farmer category was awarded to Mark and Esther Tubman who are contract milkers for John and Anne Freeman, on their 150ha, 350-cow...

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