Dairy industry lures backpacker to stay

By Alana Christensen

Five years ago, the idea of working in the Australian dairy industry was the last thing on the mind of Ireland’s Rosemary Corcoran — today, she couldn’t think of anything better.

Having come to Australia at the end of August 2013 on a backpacking holiday, Ms Corcoran found work on a dairy farm at Finley and the former corner store assistant from County Cork hasn’t looked back since.

‘‘I just loved milking cows — it’s so diverse and everyone is willing to give you different roles so you’re not just a milker, even though I love that,’’ she said.

Although not from a farming background in Ireland, Ms Corcoran has dived head first into Australian agriculture. She has completed Certificate III and Certificate IV in Agriculture and is currently studying for a diploma.

Australia’s Legendairy Women’s Network (ALWN) recently supported Ms Corcoran to attend the Australian Women in Agriculture Conference 2018 in Shepparton, giving her a new perspective on the important role of women on farms.

According to Dairy Australia community relations manager and ALWN co-ordinator Natasha Busbridge, helping dairy women attend the conference provides positive development and networking opportunities.

‘‘Anyone who attended the conference would have taken something away with them to help their professional development as farmers while enjoying the opportunity to connect with other women in the industry,’’ she said.

Ms Corcoran said she was encouraged by stories of how the Australian Women in Agriculture (AWiA) network started.

‘‘I met so many inspiring women. My favourite quote on the day was from a woman who said she went to an AWiA meeting as a farmer’s wife and came out as a farmer,’’ she said.

‘‘I felt a bit that way myself. The dairy industry in Australia is very forward-looking in all aspects, like succession planning, technology and diversity.

‘‘Everything is done for a reason and it’s very scientific and that’s why I wanted to study and move up the ranks, plus I met my partner Tim Snowden and decided to stay.’’

Until last year Ms Corcoran was milking full-time but has now moved into hay production on her partner’s family lucerne hay farm near Tocumwal in NSW.

She maintains her connection to dairy farming by milking at weekends and helping with other jobs on a neighbouring dairy farm.

‘‘I get my cow fix on the weekends,’’ she joked.

Although enjoying a different aspect of the agriculture industry at present, Ms Corcoran hopes to return full-time to dairy in the future.

‘‘My heart is in the dairy industry,’’ she said.

‘‘Before I came to Australia I could never imagine myself working in agriculture, let alone milking cows. Now I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.’’