Pair contemplate next venture

Pair contemplate next venture

Standing on the high diving board for the first time, looking down at the great unknown can be very daunting.
Scott and Nat Gillam are at a cross roads in their farming career, contemplating the next chapters in their life.
Scott has been dairy farming ever since leaving school 18 years ago. It’s been the sole focus of his working life. He and Nat have done well in their farming life so far.
Eleven years ago they took a low order sharemilking contract working for Peter van Vught on his 100ha farm in Onewhero just south of Pukekohe.
Five years ago, wanting to progress towards farm ownership, the couple put a proposal to Peter offering to buy his herd of autumn calving holstein friesians.
Peter agreed and over the last few years Scott and Nat have worked together on the farm as a team, growing their equity from $30,000 to over $500,000. Scott loves the lifestyle that farming affords him.
He loves the freedom of being his own boss, working the land, and the time the family enjoys together. The couple have two children, Olivia 12 and Billy 9.
Scott says because he and Nat spend time together in the shed in the busy calving months, the kids are growing up more independent than most kids their age.
The kids also love being out on the farm helping mum and dad, and Scott says probably doing more things than their age allows them to do.
But, it’s that next step for Scott and Nat that is so challenging. “You know, milking 200 cows isn’t a big job,” says Scott.
“We’re pretty low debt. But I’m worried that if we go bigger again with cows we’re not going to get any closer to buying our own farm – it will just push it further away.”
He says with land prices in the area getting so expensive the ability for them to own their own farm is becoming unrealistic. On top of that, increasing farm rules, regulations and compliance makes it increasingly unattractive to farm.
“Because I’ve been dairy farming since leaving school, the next step is a big thing isn’t it. Do you sit in the comfortable place that you know or do you take the plunge and try something else.”
Home ownership is high on Scott and Nat’s wish list. Scott says there-in lies the problem.
With farm ownership becoming unrealistic for them, all their equity is tied up in the cows and plant. He says you can’t have that, lean on it and go and buy a home as well. Scott and Nat have options to consider.
Putting a manager on the farm and continuing to run the farm as well as another business is one option. But perhaps Scotts greatest love, aside from Nat, presents the most golden possibility – fishing.
With a passion for catching marlin over the summer months and snapper throughout the year, along with a small sideline business selling fishing gear, developing a fishing orientated business has a striking lure attached to it. “It’s bloody difficult,” says Scott.
“I always thought that by the time I hit 40 I would be able to buy a farm but it’s not looking that way. There are plenty of options – it’s just knowing what option is the best one for us.”
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