OPINION: If you want to see a role model (or two), just look at NZ Dairy Industry Awards winners Damian and Jane Roper.
The Duncans, 50:50 sharemilkers at a Northland property, will move in June to a different farm in a similar role.
Speaking at a recent field day hosted by the 2019 Northland Share Farmers of the Year Colin and Isabella Beazely, the Duncans stressed that dairying will remain the core of their business.
And they have decided to continue sharemilking because the potential returns from farm ownership do not appeal to them right now.
Gina Duncan says 12 months ago farm ownership was a priority for them but they have since reassessed their goals.
“We currently get a 10%-plus return as 50:50 sharemilkers; if we go and buy a farm with a 4-5% return is that really the best move?
“At the end of the day, we farmers are business people assessing why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
The Duncans are looking at investments outside dairying -- passive investment, adds Gina. “We will let the money do our work while we focus on dairy farming.”
Gina pointed out that farm ownership is getting harder and harder for new and young entrants in the industry; it is seen as being out of reach for many.
“You have to start thinking outside the box to get ahead, not limit yourself to the dairy industry.
There are a lot of other opportunities out there and we are very hungry for progression and success. There are other opportunities that can help us to farm ownership, if that really is the goal.”
Dan Duncan says their core business will always be dairying and buying a farm had been the next logical step for them but they have decided against that for the time being.
Many things are happening, he said: changes in environmental issues and the possibility of a capital gains tax.
“Right now we are happy not to be aggressively looking to buy a farm; we’ll diversify a bit and try to create good returns elsewhere, whether in horticulture or other bits and pieces.”
He says their presentations over the last 12 months were all about achieving farm ownership.
“That was the main goal; we still have the same goal but we’ve changed the timeline and it’s now a little further down the track.”
The Duncans are 50:50 sharemilkers for the Pouto Topu A Trust milking 1020 cows on the 460ha Pouto property near Dargaville.
Both hold Bachelor of Applied Sciences degrees with majors in rural valuation and management; Dan has a double major including agriculture.