Scholarship recognises student’s passion for agriculture and grasp of industry issues

Penny Chapman’s passion for agriculture and her understanding of industry issues has been recognised through a scholarship from Perrin Ag.

The 22-year-old has received a $3,000 scholarship from the agribusiness consulting firm towards her final year studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours at Lincoln University.

Penny is originally from Methven and her family runs a cropping and dairy support operation near the Rakaia River in Canterbury.

Perrin Ag Director Trudy Laan says her team was impressed by Penny’s high academic standards, community involvement, and her proactive work encouraging young people into agricultural careers through her work with the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM).

“Penny demonstrates a real passion for agriculture and has a good handle on issues facing the industry and how farmers are feeling as they tackle the many challenges.

“She is excited to be taking a career path as a young rural professional ready to make a positive impact on our farming community.”

“We felt Penny epitomised the high caliber of people we work hard to attract to our team, and we’re excited to see where her career takes her.”

The Perrin Ag scholarship will help Penny complete a study she hopes will encourage farmers to look at their entire farm system when reducing the environmental impact of their operations.

“My Honours study is to investigate the economic and environmental viability of two potential future dairy farm systems operating under either a low or moderate input system and compare them to a current high performing dairy farm, the Lincoln University Demonstration Farm,” she says.

“I hope my research will provide dairy farmers with information they need to make changes to their systems for the betterment of the environment and their financials.”

The farms involved in Penny’s study range from lower input systems with less nitrogen, lower stocking rates and no imported feed, through to moderate systems with more cows, more nitrogen and more imported feed being used.

“I’m hoping my research will increase knowledge within the dairy industry around the successful adoption and implementation of future dairy farming practices that help to mitigate negative environmental effects associated with milk production in New Zealand,” says Penny.

 

Penny believes the biggest issue facing farmers is maintaining profit and passion within their farm business, while facing ongoing environmental, Government and public pressure.

“Profitability is the bottom line of any business and for farmers this is becoming more difficult as they have to adjust farm systems to meet regional rules and regulations. But through innovation and education, I believe these challenges can be met,” says Penny.

Her family’s farm in the Upper Rakaia Valley is an example of how landowners can adapt to their environment and make changes to suit the land they are farming.

“We’re a bit unique in this area and the ability to farm successfully in this environment has helped develop my appreciation and enthusiasm for sustainable farming,” says Penny.

Penny’s family winters about 800 dairy cows on the farm every season, and grows peas, wheat and barley, some of which goes to the dairy farm as supplementary feed. They also produce linseed and have recently added a red clover crop that aims to be more regenerative on the soil.

“We are always driving to have the farm perform as well as it can, while also being mindful of policy changes and regulations we have to meet. My long-term goal is definitely helping farmers utilise their resource in a profitable, environmentally and ethically sustainable way,” says Penny.

Penny is the Lincoln University student representative on the NZIPIM and has spent time encouraging other students into careers in agriculture.

“Our industry needs skilled people who understand farm systems and how they can be improved, so there is real opportunity for career growth. I think the scholarships being offered by Perrin Ag are helping people to see that opportunity,” says Penny.

This is the sixth year Perrin Ag has offered the scholarship. It is awarded annually to promising individuals to continue their agriculture or horticulture studies at either Lincoln or Massey Universities.



Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations. If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”

Abbey Dowd

Consultant

B.Ag.Sc (Hons), MNZIPIM

Abbey joined Perrin Ag in February 2023 as part of the firm’s graduate recruitment programme, Empower.

Abbey grew up surrounded by dairy farms in a close-knit community in South Waikato. She saw first-hand how local farmers supported her community, which is what inspired her to study at Lincoln University.

Growing up in a rural community Abbey has always been impressed by how much local farmers contribute to the community. She wanted to help give back to the industry and play a part in helping our primary sector continue to produce quality food in a sustainable way.

In 2022, Abbey spent the summer as an intern on one of New Zealand’s first commercial deer milking operations. Her Honours project was researching deer milk alongside other more traditional milking operations and assessing the deer milking industry’s future production possibilities.

“Growing up I didn’t live on a farm, but I always knew I wanted to work in the farming sector. I wanted a role where there was a balance between working on and off farm and where I could support farmers to get the best out of their businesses.”

Sam Gray

Consultant

Sam grew up on a dairy farm in the Far North. After graduating from the University of Otago in 2005 with an Honours degree in molecular biotechnology, he spent several years working in medical research in New Zealand and Scotland. Upon returning to New Zealand in 2012, he spent four seasons dairy farming in Northland before purchasing a 56 ha block in Taupо̄, where he was first exposed to farming under a nitrogen cap. Sam joined Perrin Ag in 2023 and brings his strong analytical skills that are grounded by a pragmatic approach to problem solving. Outside of farming and consultancy, you’ll likely find him fly fishing, hunting or snowboarding.

“A lot of farmers feel overwhelmed in the face of a rapidly changing regulatory landscape. I strive to help farmers understand what these environmental regulations mean for their business, and offer practical solutions that allow them to keep doing what they do best, whilst remaining compliant”.

Danni Armstrong

Finance administrator

Danni grew up on a life style block in Atiamuri and spent five seasons as a relief milker in the area. During this time, her full time roles were in various fields including the rental car, health care and marine industries. Danni has had a focus on administrative and accounting duties, but is also proficient in looking after customers especially well, social media and website operation, running a rental car fleet and the associated tasks like training, rosters, H&S and organising repairs! Danni joined Perrin Ag in May 2021, to be part of a business in an industry she is passionate about.

During her spare time Danni can be found reading a book with her cats or out enjoying the walks in Rotorua’s Redwoods.

“What motivates me each day is knowing that I will be challenged with a range of problem solving tasks. I love to see all the figures adding up and knowing that my role makes a difference to the team.”

Duncan Walker

Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc, MNZIPIM (Reg)

Coming from a drystock and dairy farming background, Duncan has always been passionate about growing primary sector businesses. Whether it’s pastoral farming, forestry, horticulture or investments outside the farm gate, sustainably optimising business performance is Duncan’s passion. After graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agribusiness, Duncan’s first opportunity to optimise a farm business was by undertaking a dairy conversion. Duncan project managed the conversion and continued to run the dairy farm for a further three years.

Since joining Perrin Ag in 2011 Duncan works with a wide range of clients including those ‘outside the farm gate’. With his strong background in investment analysis, business strategy and project management, Duncan is increasingly working with clients to analyse and integrate horticulture and forestry investments into their farm businesses.

“I enjoy helping clients navigate through the complexities of today’s operational, financial and environmental challenges. Seeing clients achieve their goals is very rewarding”

Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations.  If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”