International Women’s Day

8 March 2018

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and a call to action for gender parity. This year we’re celebrating the women who are proud Fonterra farmers by finding out what it’s like to work in dairy.


Meet Rachel Baker

Rachel took a calculated risk to get into dairying 20 years ago, after a progressive farmer saw potential in her and her husband. In that time they’ve grown their own sharemilking business in Central Hawke’s Bay and Rachel has given back to the industry through her involvement with the Dairy Industry Awards Executive – all while bringing up a young family.

She enjoys recognising and developing young, progressive farming talent, which are in high demand as the sector goes through a period of rapid change on many fronts.

When she’s not on the farm, Rachel loves her family, sport, good food and wine, a recommended read and good company.

Meet Tracey Collis

Tracey is from Eketahuna and started sharemilking 27 years ago, where she would work off farm during the week and milk on weekends. Her passion for dairy developed from an interest in the business both on farm and on paper and has grown both personally and professionally as an agricultural leader through the training she’s had throughout her career.

In addition to winning Sharemilker of the Year for the Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua in 2003, Tracey is a finalist in the 2018 Dairy Woman of the Year. She also has a creative side and enjoys making greeting cards when she’s not on the farm.

Meet Loshni Manikam

Originally from South Africa, Loshni has been in the dairy industry for 20 years and lives in Southland, milking 600 cows with her husband and three children.

Loshni has enjoyed progressing up the dairy ladder, from managing a small farm to buying into an equity partnership owning a 200ha farm. She says there’s a lot of opportunity for women in dairy, but that it takes good planning and a lot of thought about exactly what you want to achieve – with willingness to put in the hard work and make sacrifices along the way.

Describing herself in one word, Loshni says she’s positive, or indescribable, and enjoys connecting with people and holidays when she’s not on the farm.

Meet Alice Reilly

Alice always knew she would work in agriculture after growing up on a dairy farm and with farming in the blood on both sides of her family. She milks 570 cows in Takaka and has been in the industry for the past seven years, recently buying into an equity partnership with her partner.

Alice says women are just as passionate and hardworking as the men are and the best thing about the job is the day-to-day variation. She also enjoys helping staff as they progress from starting out in the industry to farming on their own.

When she’s not on the farm Alice loves adventure racing and describes herself as smiley.

Meet Belinda Price

It’s the many facets to dairy farming that really interest Belinda, who has 650 cows on her farm in Nukumaru. She loves living and working in one place, with no traffic, while working with animals and building great networks.

Winning two industry awards in 2016 is Belinda’s greatest career achievement – Share Farmer of the Year Taranaki and Horizon's Ballance Farm Environment Awards Supreme Winner– and says she hopes someone would describe her as inspirational.

Speaking about the industry, Belinda says dairy farming women are the most humble, yet passionate, you’ll ever meet who are talented multi-taskers who run multi-million dollar businesses while acting on industry boards, community groups and raising a family.

Meet Clare Johnston

After escaping the corporate world, Clare returned to her dairy roots in South Taranaki and has spent 13 successful years in the industry. She credits developing a sustainable and successful business as her greatest career achievement, where she’s held every role from CEO to thistle grubber – and everything in between.

A lot of women in the dairy industry are highly educated and have chosen farming over other careers, and Clare says that women who are considering the career to find a mentor and develop a pathway to achieving their goals.

Clare spends time away from the farm with family, swimming and contributing to community projects and describes herself as mind-blowingly-busy.

Meet Tanya Frost

Based in Marlborough, Tanya and her husband switched from sheep and beef farming to dairy 12 years ago and have loved it since. Milking 380 cows, Tanya and her husband have a track record of transforming farms by making them fully compliant and increasing milk production.

Tanya has a strong family unit and says dairy is a great industry to bring your family up in. Her children are very hands on and help her with rearing calves before the school bus arrives at 7:30am.

When she’s not on the farm Tanya enjoys travelling with her family and fishing in the sounds.

Meet Del Bruce

Del has spent five years in the dairy industry, milking 420 cows in Brightwater, Nelson. She credits her win as the 2016 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year for giving her a lot of confidence in what she does and proving that women in dairy can do anything the guys can.

Although born and bred into dairy farming, Del tried a few different jobs but found her true passion was farming and put her heart and soul into it. She enjoys riding dirtbikes and tramping in the mountains when she’s not on the farm.

Meet Johanna Bishell

Johanna studied agriculture after growing up on a dairy farm and developing a love for farm life. Based in Taranaki, she milks 840 cows over two farms and credits her win as Share Farmer of the Year and third placing at the National Dairy Industry Awards as her greatest career achievements.

Johanna says there are huge opportunities available for the right people in the dairy industry, which can be unlocked by finding the best farmers in the industry to learn from, getting the relevant industry training and setting realistic goals.

Describing herself as a super mum achieving super dreams, Johanna enjoys having fun with her kids when she’s not on the farm.