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Lynch Family

Lynch Family 01

When it comes to running their dairy and livestock operation Kate and Gerard Lynch are less concerned with ensuring they have the most high tech gadgets and more concerned with getting the basics right, day in, day out.

It’s a commitment the couple share although Kate is the first to admit that some days it’s easier than others. “We’ve tried to instil across the business how important it is to do things well every day, on the days when you’re sloshing through mud in sleeting rain as well as on the nice, sunny days,” she said.

“Agriculture is the same as anywhere, if you are running your own business, every dollar counts so you can’t afford to just let things slide. Whether it’s paying attention to every cow to ensure they’re in peak health, clearing up the shed in the evening or ensuring machinery is serviced on time, the simple things make a big difference.”

From dairy to beef

Gerard and Kate milk approximately 560 head of Friesian cows 20km north-west of Whanganui on New Zealand’s North Island. The 230 hectare dairy block was purchased in 2000 and around four years ago they expanded and purchased an additional 438 hectares along with leasing an additional 140 hectares along the coast. 

Gerard says the expansion has enabled them to spread their financial risk. “We’re running around 400 head of Friesian beef bulls on the better country and a flock of 800 ewes on the hills,” Gerard said.

“All of the bulls are produced from our own herd, being able to grow them out has spread our market exposure, which has been particularly important this year with the dairy prices as they are."
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“We grow the bulls through to 18-24 months and 600kg live weight with the majority of them destined for the US grinding beef market, which fortunately is pretty buoyant at the moment.”

Academia and agriculture

While getting the ‘basics’ right might be a day-to-day focus for Kate and Gerard they do take time out from the business to plan on a regular basis. They both studied extensively following high school, both completing a Bachelor of Ag Science followed by a Masters’ degree, Kate admits that this background probably has had an impact on how they approach certain business decisions.

“I guess the background that you gain from academic study is that interest in asking the questions and doing the research and not just accepting that first answer.”

“Gerard is also very precise in what he does and has a do it once, do it right, attitude but I have a feeling this is more about who he is rather than what he studied.” 

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This precision and propensity toward research and evaluation also served Gerard well in 1983 when he became the youngest person to win the Skellerup Young Farmer of the Year, a win that he credits with providing a lot of opportunities.

“Winning the Young Farmer competition gave me a huge leg up and it does the same for those that win today.”

“It also contributed to the job I got working at Massey University, which was a particularly fortunate outcome as it’s where I met Kate.” Gerard was also awarded a Harkness Scholarship in 1992 which enabled him to go and complete a MBA in Agribusiness at Cornell University in the US.

“As part of my time there I also did a loop around the US looking at different dairy businesses. Seeing how people are going about things in larger markets gives you an incredible insight, New Zealand is so small on a global scale and it’s important that we don’t lose perspective.”

On returning home Gerard was elected onto the Kiwi Dairy Company board and then Fonterra.

Gerard and Kate have four daughters who are currently attending school in New Plymouth, the distance means that Kate is currently in New Plymouth during the week until their youngest is old enough to board. While it is a sacrifice for Kate and Gerard it is one they do gladly as they view education as important for their girls’ future, no matter what job they take.

“An education is about a lot more than obtaining vocational skills,”

“We try to instil in our kids that finishing school or getting a degree is not a ticket for a job, it’s about training your mind so when faced with a problem in the future you won’t need to know what the answer is but you will know how to find it.” Gerard said.

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