Enjoying dairy from inside and outside the farm
Peter Korpershoek has seen the dairy industry from inside the farmgate and inside factory walls… and he likes what he sees from both perspectives.
The field officer for Tasmanian Dairy Products at Smithton in Tasmania has spent a lifetime dedicated to dairying and wouldn’t swap it for anything else.
“I reckon a lot of people in towns would be very naïve about the dairy industry,” he said. “They wouldn’t know where a litre of milk comes from and what the process is for getting it in the fridge.”
That’s why Peter is a big fan of the Legendairy communications initiative to raise the profile and reputation of the dairy industry.
He’s also a big footy fan, having played and coached locally over the years.
And that’s why he’s particularly excited about the AFL’s upcoming Legendairy Farmer Round between Collingwood and Adelaide on 11 April, which will celebrate Australia’s dedicated dairy farmers and the important role that footy and community often play in local dairy towns.
Peter grew up on a family dairy farm near Smithton and says the industry “is in my blood”.
“I love it,” he said. “You’re not answerable to anyone but the weather and the cows. You’re basically your own boss.”
He also knows when it’s time to move on.
“I started as a young tacker with my dad and my two brothers on a mixed farm. We used to milk about 400-450 cows on the home farm and grew a lot of vegetables such as potatoes and onions,” he said.
About 15 years ago Peter left the partnership and bought his own dairy farm, which he ran for about eight years before moving to greener pastures.
“I was getting a bit long in the tooth and my eldest son Isaac wanted to go dairy farming so I walked out one day and he walked in,” Peter said. “He’s been running the business for the past seven years.”
“I’m not one of those parents who wants to hold the titles forever.”
In recent years, Peter’s other son Luke has gone into dairying with his brother in partnership on a second farm near Smithton.
In the meantime, Peter has stayed connected to the industry he loves, firstly as a stock agent and for the past three years in his field officer role. He still gets involved on the farm in a small way.
“I go out and do a milking here and there and a bit of work, but not a lot. The boys know how to run it pretty well. They don’t need the old man too much.”
He never pressured his sons to go into dairying, but he’s happy they’ve chosen that route.
“As long as they’re happy, I’m happy,” he said. “I never put any pressure on the boys to go dairy farming but they wanted to do it and they love it. That makes me happy.”
Apart from his dairying work, Peter has been a football stalwart in the area.
As a junior he played with the local club Forest-Stanley before advancing to senior levels. In 1980 he moved to Smithton when it joined the Northern Tasmanian Football League.
“It was higher competition and I thought I should have a crack,” he said.
He went on to play more than 200 senior games at Smithton before moving back to the local league to play and coach.
“We had some good players from dairy farms when I was playing,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be as many now. It’s good to get involved and a good way to get to know people.”
After retiring from playing at 33, Peter returned to coach the Smithton under 19s for three years, culminating in a premiership. He retired a second time but returned a few years later for another year of coaching.
“We got another flag and I decided that was it; time to go out on a high note.”
Today Peter is happy to support Legendairy and promote the dairy industry.
In his role with Tasmanian Dairy Products he aims to help the local industry to grow.
“I love the liaison between factory and farm. With my farming background it suits me,” he said.
“Supply is going up but we want more milk because we’ve built a new factory. There’s plenty of capacity in Tasmania and a lot of untapped potential locally.
“We have climactic conditions that suit and if we get more consistency in prices and take out the lows I think there’s a fair future. You can accumulate wealth if you get into the right areas.”