Accountant broadens roles again

Gaye Cowie, of Tuapeka West, has added the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Southern South Island Farmer...
Gaye Cowie, of Tuapeka West, has added the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Southern South Island Farmer Council to her list of community and business groups and organisations she is already involved in. She also enjoys working on the family farm with Di (white) and Mo. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
There might be a saying "If you want something done, ask a busy woman."

Just ask Gaye Cowie.

She and husband Nigel farm a rolling 372ha sheep property at Tuapeka West, running 3200 Romney ewes and 870 hoggets, with a 145% lambing percentage. They have four adult children: Bridget, Adam, Becky and Meg.

In addition, she is a director with chartered accountants Shand Thomson, Balclutha, a member of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Southern South Island Farmer Council, and is Clutha Development’s deputy chairwoman.

She is also chairwoman of the Tuapeka Community Health Company, and a facilitator of "Understanding Your Farming Business" workshops with the Agri-Women’s Development Trust.

She also facilitates workshops for the Red Meat Profit Partnership and is part of a community group working to establish wetlands near Lawrence.

When she gets a minute, she enjoys working on the farm, fishing, possum hunting and deerstalking.

However, her key message is for women who farm in partnership with family and spouses.

"I want women to have the confidence to stand up and say ‘I am a farmer too’."

As an accountant she enjoys visiting clients on their farms. "Everyone has a story and, as accountant, I see my role as being part of that."

Mrs Cowie was approached for nomination to sit on the farmer council and represent the Lawrence area, joining in December last year.

"I said yes as I am at the time of my life when I want to get involved in the community. I am still learning all the B+LNZ stuff."

Although B+LNZ has an extensive range of resources to help sheep and beef farmers, she would like to see more make use of the organisation.

"I think B+LNZ is a little bit under-utilised as there is a huge amount of research and support available.

"There is great engagement with 35% to 40% of farmers, and an equal amount who have no engagement."

She also wanted to see a greater emphasis placed on other forms of engagement, such as webinars, a medium that was effective during lockdown.

"A farmer might find he can’t take time off farm to go to a field day, but he does have time to sign up for a webinar for an hour with a coffee over lunch."

Before each council meeting she rings up farmers in the area to find out what concerns them. Those concerns could range from understanding regulations to environmental issues and winter grazing. She then tookthat feedback to the meetings.

She was also keen to promote mental health and wellness and the importance of talking about farmers’ concerns.

"It is becoming more normal [for farmers] to talk about mental health challenges."


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