Taking her passion to the world

By Dairy News

Clare Modra has spent her life involved with cows.

From the moment she could walk her parents would find her out among the cows and they have remained her love ever since.

She is passionate about the industry and is well known among the showing fraternity. She is a wife, a mum, a farm owner and a business operator — and juggles everything in between whatever life throws at her.

Now she is the second winner of the Bette Hall Power of Women in Dairy Scholarship.

The Power of Women in Dairy provides an opportunity for females in the industry, regardless of age, to win a $4500 scholarship to travel to World Dairy Expo. It is also a relaxed and informal group created to allow women to network and inspire each other. It celebrates strong, powerful and passionate dairy females.

Mrs Modra was touched to be awarded the Bette Hall POW Scholarship.

“I can’t believe I won. It is an honour and I am thrilled,” the Gunbower farmer said.

“I can’t wait to head to the dairy expo. It has been a dream of mine for many years and we have decided that we will use it as an opportunity to take the whole family away.

“It will give me a fantastic opportunity to source new genetics for our herd and network with like-minded individuals, learn different farming practices and identify new ideas and judges for the Winter Fair. I am always looking for ways to improve my own business and become more efficient and financially viable and this will be a great opportunity for that as well.”

POW spokesperson Jade Sieben said Mrs Modra was a standout among the applicants.

“Clare is a very worthy recipient of the $4500 scholarship and we certainly look forward to having her represent our group at expo and we also look forward to her input back into POW,” she said.

Mrs Sieben thanked everyone who had contributed to fundraising and POW events over the past two years.

“Particularly I wish to acknowledge the amazing contribution of Bette Hall. Bette is so supportive of women in dairy and without her this scholarship would not have come to fruition as quickly as it has.”

Mrs Modra has spent countless hours over the years preparing and showing cattle, but breeding is where her passion firmly remains.

“There is no greater satisfaction then watching your cattle develop and improve over the generations, especially when you have been involved from conception,” she said.

“We have had the pleasure of developing a few Excellent cows over the years and there is nothing more rewarding from a breeding perspective.”

Mrs Modra and her husband Stuart began their dairy journey sharefarming at Tongala in 2002.

Drought and tough times saw them move to Mount Gambier where they remained for six years. When that farm sold they moved to Simpson to a lease farm with their herd of 200 cattle.

In 2012 the opportunity to purchase a dairy farm on Gunbower Island came up and just 52 days short of their goal, they owned their own farm.

Mrs Modra has also been instrumental in developing the Victorian Winter Fair. The Winter Fair is a Holstein dairy show held annually at Bendigo designed to showcase both spring and autumn-calved cows. It has been running for four years, is gaining popularity and is known as one of the two top dairy shows in the country.

“The Winter Fair has been a tremendous success and as a fairly quiet person who likes to stay home on the farm, it has been a great way for me to improve my communication and networking skills. It has also created many new contacts for me within the industry,” she said.

Mrs Modra has had many influential and inspirational women to look up to over the years, but there are two who stand out.

“It’s not until you have children do you truly learn how to appreciate your mother,” she said.

“My mum Cheryl Dee worked extremely hard on the farm and had five children at the time. She reared the calves for over 40 years and managed all the finances up until she was no longer able. I miss my mum.

“Growing up under the guidance and support of Sherri Martin inspired me to never give up. I had the pleasure to know her outside of the industry and she was an outstanding individual who was never afraid to speak her mind and was always there to listen and give advice.”

(Cheryl Dee died at the start of the year. Sherri Martin died after battling cancer. A fund was set up by the North West Sub-Branch of Holstein Australia in her honour to encourage young people in the dairy industry.)

Despite the tough times and the ups and downs of the industry, Mrs Modra remains determined to continue farming.

“Dairy farmers have to be the bravest, most optimistic people in the world to endure year after year all that nature throws at us and what the world economy does to our income; it takes a special kind of person”.past few weeks and the only place I have found any relief is snuggled under my doona with the electric blanket permanently stuck on three.

There are many things I miss about dairying and always will.

I love the smell of the cows grazing a paddock, especially during spring.

I love watching the calves frolic in the sun and I used to love driving around the farm on a beautiful spring day.

There was nothing better than rearing a calf and two years later watch her walk into the dairy.

The one thing I will never ever miss is the cold mornings, the frozen fingers and frozen snot hanging out my nose. I used to do anything to get out of getting the cows up on those cold frosty mornings and as the years tick by I am finding it harder and harder to deal with the cold.

Maybe once you are in your 40s something happens to your temperature — mine seems to be stuck on freezing.

Bring on spring, although my trusty friend Facebook (who never lies) also told me we are in for a long hot summer so maybe spring is only going to make a token appearance this year.

As usual I have been out and about around the countryside and met some awesome farmers doing great things for their business and the industry. Many have their heads down and bums up trying to make the most of a better milk price year and, fingers crossed, a profitable spring.

Gunbower dairy farmer Clare Modra was fortunate enough to win the Power of Women in Dairy Bette Hall Scholarship, which will see her head to World Dairy Expo in the United States in 2018.

What a wonderful initiative the POW group is and what a great opportunity it is to be exposed to such a motivating and inspirational group of women. We all know many women involved in the industry juggle family life along with farming and Clare is a deserved winner.

Berrigan dairy farmer Graeme Spunner has been milking cows all his life.

What a treat it was to spend a few hours looking around his farm. His passion and dedication for his cows is amazing and in his mid-70s he has no plans to slow down either — he is what you would call a true stalwart of the industry.

On the other side of the coin it was great to meet Carl and Rachelle Moon who are just starting their dairy journey with a young family. After a difficult start, they hope the worst is behind them as they begin to carve out a future in the industry they love.

The industry needs both types of farmers to survive — the old and experienced head and the young and keen.