Covid-19 has curbed Tom Quinn’s athletic pursuits, brought changes to the way he works and meant he learned of his win in the 2020 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry awards via a Facebook presentation, but all that aside, he’s grateful to be at home in New Zealand.
“My partner Molly Creagh and I travelled extensively through Asia for the best part of a year in 2017-18 and had a wonderful time. But now with the world-wide pandemic, I would hate to be isolated in some of the places we visited,” said the 24-year-old winner in the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee award.
“It was a pity not to have the usual awards celebrations when everyone can get together, but it (the Covid-19 lock down) is what it is, and we all have to do our bit.”
First-time entrant Tom is thrilled with his win. “I have only been in the industry for 12 months. It is very encouraging to achieve this success so early in my career.”
Tom, a senior farm assistant on Selwyn and Jenny McLachlan’s 210-hecxtare, 920-cow farm at Masterton, saw the awards as an opportunity to benchmark himself against others at a similar level.
“It is a good opportunity to meet like-minded farmers and rural professionals and to learn new skills.”
Tom does have family history on his side.
“I am a fourth-generation dairy farmer. My great grand parents bought the family farm south of Carterton and began with 12 Jersey cows. Some years ago my parents converted the property to beef and cropping.”
Tom attended Rathkeale College before studying for a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln University. “I initially wanted to study soil science but found I really loved farm management and pushed that theme throughout my four-year degree.
“When I graduated, I sought advice from mentor Chris Lewis of BakerAg and was impressed at the opportunities the dairy industry offers to grow my own business with a clear pathway towards farm ownership. I have a passion for seeing livestock grow, develop and reach their potential and really enjoy the variety of tasks that dairy farming offers.”
Tom enjoys athletics and has competed nationally and internationally in the hammer throw. In 2014 he won the Oceania Under 20 men’s championship at a meet in Rarotonga.
“I’m not so active competitively now but help the local athletic club when I can.”
The nation-wide lock down, aimed to slow the spread of Covid-19 virus has brought changes to Tom’s workplace.
“We are even more strict about hygiene standards and have changed work practices to keep people apart. We try to arrange for one person to do the same job, such as tractor driving, over a couple of days, then thoroughly clean the machine before the next person takes over.”
Question: What is your immediate goal within the industry?
Answer: “Farm ownership is the ultimate goal, but I want to continue to upskill myself, particularly in precision agriculture which will help lift production while reducing costs.”
Runner up in the Dairy Trainee category was Brett France and Rutger (Roger) Visser was third.
Dairy trainee merit awards
Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa DIA Most Promising Entrant – Jacob Stolte
TFM Tractors Farming Knowledge Award – James Vallance
T.H. Enterprises Ltd Community & Industry Involvement Award – Tom Quinn
McFall Fuel Ltd Communication and Engagement Award – James Vallance
DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Brett France