NZ experience wins the day

Lincoln BertelliCountryman

A Busselton-based farmer hopes his dairy industry award will be a chance to further his career and get more young people involved.

Jindong-based farmer Brentin Matthews used a farming grounding from his native New Zealand to help him claim the WA dairy farmer of the year in the employee category.

Mr Matthews moved to Australia, where he has family, after looking for a “bit of a change”.

He described the move as a “bit of a shock at first” and said the ability to earn a year-round income in Australia, unlike New Zealand where there are certain times of the year that milking cannot take place, was the biggest difference.

Mr Matthews hopes the win will help to “get my name out there and further myself in the industry”.

He plans to eventually get on a share farm and hopes to be involved with promoting dairy farming to young people.

“I would love to get on the Western Dairy board and voice opinions on how to get young people involved in the industry,” he said.

“I would love to upskill and also try to encourage young people to get involved and see what the industry can do.”

WA Farmers dairy section president Phil Depiazzi said the win would be “super” for Mr Matthews and hoped it would help his confidence to develop.

He said the competition would help the personal development of all the finalists, describing them all as “quality people”.

Meanwhile, Lachlan Fry, who lives in Benger and farms in Brunswick, was named young farmer of the year in the ownership category at the dinner.

The 25-year-old was involved in a long selection process which first led to three finalists being named and said it was a “privilege” to be judged as the overall winner.

“I feel very humbled and honoured to be able to accept this award,” he said.

“Even though it is an individual award, I still see it as being on behalf of the young dairy farmers of the State.”

The selection process involved a two-day retreat in Pemberton which included sessions on public speaking and critical thinking.

From there, Mr Fry completed an essay on the barriers to growth within the industry before having a face-to-face interview.

Describing cattle as his passion, he said his ambitions are simply to be a “profitable and successful dairy farmer in Western Australia”.

Mr Fry, whose parents still oversee operations on the farm they lease, also hopes to give back to young people within the industry.

“The cattle side is my strength and it’s a good industry to be in,” he said.

“In my situation where I am my own boss, it has responsibility, but the harder you work the more rewarding it is.”

Mr Fry was one of two winners named on the night, alongside Busselton-based Brentin Matthews in the employee category.

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