FROM the land of the long white cloud to the sunburnt country, the mechanical whirl of dairy machinery has been a constant soundtrack to the careers of John and Janelle Andreoli.
The couple and their four children moved from New Zealand to Australia more than a decade ago for a new life across the Tasman, but a nation swap did not necessarily equal a career change.
Mr and Mrs Andreoli relocated to a farm at Naringal, 20 kilometres east of Warrnambool, in the region’s dairy heartland.
Despite their obvious love for life on the land, their four children have all opted for a career behind some sort of desk, with 26-year-old Ailsa working as an interior architect, 24-year-old Helise employed by a record company and Brenton, 19, heading off to university to study forensic science.
Corporate trainee Caitlin said she never envisaged a career in the milking pit and dairy yard, despite many years of herding cattle and helping out her father whenever possible. “Farming never really entered my mind, not even for a second,” the 21-year-old said.
“One summer I spent an entire two weeks on the farm and anyone will tell you that it’s tough work.
“Less than a handful of people I went to school with went into farming. They mostly went off to university or found work somewhere else.
“I think the reason why people are heading off farms is because there’s so many opportunities out there these days compared to the past.”
A shift away from agricultural work towards service industry positions is not an Australian-specific phenomenon, according to Mr Andreoli.
He said the same trend was occurring in New Zealand as the dairy sector became more exposed to the vagaries of international markets.
“There’s no one reason behind this shift away from the family farm. It’s a combination of issues that have emerged over the past few years,” Mr Andreoli said.
“Flexible working hours are one issue. Young blokes will go out with their mates on a Friday night and then if you’re a dairy farmer, you have to milk the cows early the next day. So there’s a lifestyle factor there.”
Mr Andreoli said working in a traditional office setting also held the allure of a regular and reliable income, compared to the unpredictable nature of dairy and wool prices.
“Any farmer will tell you that input costs are another factor at play,” he said. “The cost of supplies to keep the farm ticking over are usually getting dearer, while the same can’t be said about overall farm returns.”
However, the flexibility of being an owner-operator allows farmers like the Andreolis to not let work dictate their overall lifestyle.
“There are plenty of positives and a big one is that you can head into town to see your kids participate in some school event or whatever without having to deal with a boss,” Mr Andreoli said.
“There’s plenty of freedom in farming in that respect.”