If anyone ever thought a girl couldn’t rough it, they obviously haven’t met Charlotte Nimmo. The year 13 Feilding High School student lives on a sheep and beef farm in Hunterville with her family, and as the oldest of three girls, Charlotte has become her father’s “son he never got”.
Charlotte wouldn’t have it any other way though and says she feels very fortunate to have her farm experience under her belt, as she now has a very clear pathway for her future.
“I’m actually leaving school at the end of next term because I got an on-farm job in Hunterville, I’m really excited. Having so many agri courses offered at school really set me straight and I know for sure it is where I want to be.”
Charlotte enjoyed studying agri at school but one thing she wants to set straight about the courses – it takes brains!
“Even though I want to do ag, I still see myself as being academic and want to give myself the opportunity to continue studying and complete a diploma if I want to. I’ve already started looking into Telford (Lincoln University), and that’s definitely an option in the future. For those not in the industry, it’s an opinion [that agri is easy], but those in the industry understand how hard it is to get your training behind you. It’s a growing industry and nowadays you need to be trained for employers to want you.”
After only a very short conversation with Charlotte, it’s clear to see that she knows what she’s talking about. Although still too young to vote, Charlotte is very in tune with common trends and issues the country’s agri sector is facing at the moment, and doesn’t shy away from giving her opinion either. Our first topic up for discussion is a biggie – the consumer.
“Traceability of products is becoming more important. The consumer wants to know where the product has come from. To be able to satisfy buyers and keep up with demand it’s becoming more important that the farmer has an understanding of where their product is going.”
Not one to avoid the sticky issues, Charlotte quickly moves on to talking about organic farming in New Zealand, what this means, and what we should do about it.
“With the development of disease and the growth of bacteria, it is unrealistic to carry on organic farming to the extent that we do it in New Zealand. The diseases we get now are becoming super-bugs, we can’t just not treat our animals for them, otherwise you’re going to get cows dropping dead left right and centre.”
“What needs to change is people’s perception of what organic means; a cow can still be healthy even if it’s had an anti-biotic. I think what is more important is not organic but being sustainable.”
And when it comes to value-added, premium products, Charlotte has a clear opinion on that as well, although one that’s commonly shared across the sector.
“We need to get to the premium end. New Zealand can produce products to a standard where we only need to supply the worlds richest 100 million or so people. At the moment we are marketing to the masses, but we don’t need to, if we focus on value-added products.”
“People love the Kiwi clean, green, made down on the farm feel and we can market that, let’s make the most of our country’s image.”