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Long held dream of dairy farm ownership

October 2021

After 20 years Rob Jesson achieved his dream of dairy farm ownership.

In June Rob bought a South Wairarapa property with land, buildings and plant, plus stock comprising a herd of 370 Kiwicross milking cows. Like most others stepping onto their first farm, Rob has big plans for the property, focused on family. However, he has come to ownership from a unique direction.

Rob has spent his career as a plumber in Hutt Valley, alongside investing in residential and commercial property, and taking his family on regular farm stay holidays.

“Financially I’m at a stage where retirement is an option, though I still want to keep busy. You ask yourself: ‘What am I going to do?’ I’ve always been interested in agriculture, and kept an eye on what happens in dairy farming, plus my daughter, Lisa, studied at Lincoln and has started a career in farming. Putting all that together, buying a farm seemed like a logical idea,” he says.

John Murray of PGG Wrightson Real Estate, Masterton was offering a property that drew Rob’s attention: a 122 hectare South Featherston farm, consistently producing more than 172,000 kilograms of milk solids per annum, just above Lake Wairarapa and 53 kilometres from the Jessons’ Hutt Valley front door. John describes the farm as nicely set up and firing on all cylinders.

“Excellent profitability built on consistent production is key to this farm’s appeal, derived from most of the 105 hectare effective milking platform being under irrigation, and a high quality shed enabling efficient one-person milking.

“For an astute investor seeking a tidy, going concern operation, this presented as an outstanding investment opportunity. In a remarkably strong primary industry economy, this is an excellent turnkey business,” says John.

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Previous owners Jim Veitch and Avon McLaughlin are based in Taupo where they have backgrounds in rural valuation and farm consultancy. They bought the farm in 2014, as Jim explains.

“Unless you go to Northland or the West Coast, the Wairarapa offers the best value for dairy property per kilogram of milk solids produced. We both work in the rural sector so understand what it takes to make an effective farm. We made several improvements, replacing plant and modifying systems for feeding supplements,” Jim says.

They also benefitted from farm managers Shaun and Ori Powell, who were on the property when Jim and Avon took over, and were then an important part of the package when Rob Jesson bought it.

“They are excellent with the herd. I wouldn’t have bought the farm without them continuing. Ultimately the aim is for Lisa to take over, though in the meantime Shaun and Ori are essential to our success,” he says.

Coming from the building industry, Rob reckons farming is different.

“I enjoy meeting people with a different take on life and in dairy everyone is passionate about what they do. On the other hand, with the banter on the job, and stopping to share smoko every day, there is a stronger sense of support and companionship in building, which you don’t see so much in farming as it is a much more solitary occupation.

“I always wanted to go farming, and this is an adventure Lisa and I can do together,” says Rob.

Changing hands as a fully going concern, the farm’s sale price exceeded $5 million.

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