Strong work ethic earns reward
The phone hasn’t stopped ringing at Phillip van Heuven’s place.
The Tirau sharemilker scooped the major prize at the 2017 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, winning Share Farmer of the Year at Mystery Creek on March 10.
The 30-year-old, who 50/50 sharemilks 230 cows for Brett Coubrough in Tirau, was ‘‘shocked initially, but so honoured’’ to win the coveted award, taking home $14,050 in prizes.
‘‘It took a while for it all to sink in,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s such a major accomplishment.’’
Van Heuven also won four merit awards: the Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award, Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award, Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award and Westpac Business Performance Award.
He and his partner Erin Brown have been flooded by phone calls and text messages of support since the win.
‘‘It’s been great and has shown the hard work we’ve put in over the years has paid off,’’ he said.
Van Heuven was raised in Matamata on a 160-ha farm, where he loved chipping in to help his parents hose the yard, feed calves and milk cows.
He believes his practical nature, love of animals and the outdoors, strong work ethic, attention to detail and determination to succeed have been key to his success.
His excellent support network is another huge plus.
‘‘I come from a very strong and supportive farming family,’’ he said.
‘‘My parents, in particular, have played a crucial role in supporting me, particularly when starting sharemilking, as I was able to purchase stock and milk them on their farm before going out on my own.
‘‘My partner works off farm but helps on the farm as often as she can and is very supportive. I’m also close to my extended family, who have been very important.’’
Van Heuven always wanted to go farming, but completed joinery qualifications after leaving school to help with his agricultural career and extend his skills.
After doing his OE, he began farming seven and a half years ago at Tiroroa farms in Matamata. He then moved back to the family farm before going sharemilking three years ago.
He has a level four New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture and is currently finishing a Diploma in Agribusiness management from Primary ITO.
He is also involved in the MP3 Dairy Push project focusing on people, profit and environment, and is a qualified artificial breeding technician.
Van Heuven said low payouts had been the biggest challenge he had faced over his sharemilking tenure.
‘‘That meant I needed to budget and think forward. I plan for the worst and always do feed budgeting, and have talked frequently to my bank manager, accountant and like-minded farmers who are in the same boat.’’
The DairyNZ website is one tool that has proved vital in helping his business stay competitive.
Van Heuven hopes his win at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards will help with his goal of obtaining a bigger 50/50 sharemilking position.
‘‘Hopefully it will set us up to further our career. The prizes from the sponsors will also really help.’’
Friends have been ringing to congratulate award-winning Tirau sharemilker Phillip van Heuven.