Governance role in Bridie’s sights

Governance role in Bridie’s sights
Bay of Plenty’s Bridie Virbickas contracts milks two farms, run as one dairy unit, carrying 560 cows. Bridie is supported by two staff and the family dog.

Speaking with young Bay of Plenty Contract milker Bridie Virbickas, you get a sense that she is destined for great things in the agricultural world.Growing up in a dairy farming family, her passion for farming, sustainability and the animals is heart felt and she wants to make a difference.
Replete with agricultural degree and off-farm work experience with Ballance Agri-Nutrients leading the North Island Sustainability Team, Bridie heard the calling to return to the land itself.When the opportunity arose to manage one of her parents dairy farms she put her hand up.
While her mum thought she had ‘rocks in her head’ to be leaving a good job and the comforts of an air-conditioned office, her dad gave her the green light.“Mum was also scared I would bury myself in a farm and forever be single – and she is right so far.”
That was four years ago and since then Bridie’s parents have purchased the neighbouring farm giving Bridie the role of contract milker for both farms.Running both farms as one dairy unit, and sup-ported by two staff, Bridie milks a total of 560 cows with a 22 a-side herringbone on each farm.
Bridie says as a young girl she was always intrigued when the bank manager, fertiliser rep or farm consultant visited.“I wanted to know what their roles were about and sat in on those meetings and used to listen to LIC or AMBreed talking about their bulls, offering my input into it.”
Doting on her cows and admitting that they are very spoilt, Bridie says her passion for farming stems from her love of animals and the environment. “I love being able to work and live on the land, be involved with animals every day and make a difference on these farms.
“ The more I can do in the farming business shows in production, low cell count and everything else I’m striving to achieve. It’s also about decreasing the environmental impact by planting trees, fencing areas off, planting wetlands and improving everything about the farms.”
At this year’s Bay of Plenty (BOP) Federated Farmers AGM Bridie was appointed as BOP Share-milkers’ Section Chair.Federated Farmers and the hard work done by the industry organization on behalf of the agricultural community is also something Bridie feels very strongly about.“They are continually fighting on behalf of farmers, our future to farm and how we farm.
Three years ago I did the Federated Farmers’ leadership course and it wasn’t until then that I saw the work that Feds actually does behind the scenes. A lot of people have this idea that Feds just provide great contracts and don’t really see the benefit of joining.”One of Bridie’s goals is to raise the area’s membership base and therefore the voice of the agricultural community.
“At the moment everyone in the agricultural industry is benefiting from what Federated Farmers is achieving with the Government, while many are riding on the coat tails of the members.”While her short term goals are to consolidate her farming knowledge, in the longer term Bridie has her sights set on a Governance role.
“I want farms and farmers to be profitable but also sustainable so it’s finding that balance. I feel as though I have a practical view on things and in a Governance role I believe I can make a difference and offer a fresh perspective.”
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