Management

Sharefarming model helps farmer get foot in the door

By Sophie Baldwin

The sharefarming model of Circular Head Farms has certainly helped Cody and Denieka Korpershoek grow their asset base in the Tasmanian dairy industry.

Cody grew up on a farm but started his career as a builder; six years ago the decision was made to move into dairy farming.

“We produce a food product the country consumes on a regular basis and dairying has never felt like a job to me like building always did,” he said.

“I love the process of growing grass and watching my stock grow from calves to heifers and cows.”

The move into dairying wasn’t without its early dramas.

“Initially Danieka wasn’t too keen because we had to sell the new home I had just built for us and it did take some persuading — but here we are now with an asset growth we never would have had, if I had of stayed in the building industry,” Cody said.

In 2014 the couple managed the first of the Circular Head Farms (CHF) properties on a cents per kilo basis, initially to see if it was a good fit for both parties.

The following year they moved to a 50-50 share.

“In 2016 we bought half the herd (300 cows) and CHF also allowed us to buy in some additional animals and rear some young stock,” Cody said.

“The next year we bought the whole herd and increased herd numbers to 650; I was pretty impatient to get stuck into owning the herd.”

The couple also purchased a 200 ha run-off block that was used in conjunction with the dairy enterprise, and herd numbers steadily increased to 870.

They then decided they wanted to take the next step into farm ownership and were looking to get some equity. After discussions with CHF the dream became a reality and within a short amount of time a farm was found and Champions Park was set up.

Cody and Danieka own 20 per cent of the unit trust for Champions Park and sharefarm the operation on a 50-50 basis with CHF.

A sharefarmer is employed by the unit trust to run the operation and Cody and Denieka own the herd.

“We envisage the process will see us purchasing more shares as we continue to invest to improve the farm and, if and when it works out, hopefully we will end up buying out CHF’s share — we sold our run-off block to move the process forward,” Cody said.

Cody said while they didn’t come into the industry with much, they have been able to grow their asset base to include 1500 cows, machinery and now an equity share.

“We are obviously driven as a couple but we could have never got to where we are today without the support of CHF.

“We are in a better position than a lot of other people who started out the same time as us and I know we are extremely lucky to have been given this opportunity.”

He said it was a shame this model wasn’t repeated across the country.

“There are a lot of good people working in the industry as managers, which takes a lot out of you emotionally and physically, and it can be demanding on family life.

“Managers are paid well but don’t have anything to show for it.

“When you sharefarm or have an equity share it works well because both parties have skin in the game — personally I don’t like the manager model, but it seems to be the most common.”