22 April 2015
Final judging in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is underway, with judges set to travel thousands of kilometres and the length and breadth of the country to select the winners.
“There’s a lot at stake for the finalists as success in any one of the competitions can open up considerable opportunities and be career and life-changing,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.
“It’s also a time when both the finalists and judges gain from participating in the awards – through learning about their farm business, defining goals and identifying opportunities to make improvements.”
Mrs Keeping says the winners of the 2015 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions will be announced in Auckland on May 2 and share $180,000 in prizes.
The three Sharemilker/Equity Farmer judges began in Palmerston North yesterday and will complete the on-farm judging component of the competition in Whangarei next Wednesday April 29. The 11 finalists will then participate in a final interview on Friday May 1.
The judges – led by Westpac’s Mark Horgan and including DairyNZ’s Abby Scott and Thames farmer Neil Gray – will drive 1592km and catch eight flights as they visit the finalists on farms stretching from Kamo in the north, to Tussock Creek down south, Opotiki in the east and Manaia in the west.
“The judges certainly get to see the country and some of our more out-of-the-way places. They’re there for a job though and know the time and effort the finalists will have taken to prepare their presentations. They want to hear about the things the finalists do every day in their farming lives.”
The Farm Manager judges are led by Dipton farmer Richard Jones and include Westpac’s Hamish Taylor and DairyNZ’s Richard Kyte.
“The farm manager judges start in Invercargill and will drive 1679km, which is estimated to take about 23 hours. They’ll also catch five flights as they traverse the country to meet the 11 finalists over the course of 10 days.”
Mrs Keeping says the Farm Manager judges will get to places like Cheviot, Reefton, Featherston, Whakatane, Cambridge and Dargaville.
The finalists again have two hours to present their farm business and goals to the judges and will also participate in a final interview on May 1.
The judging for those contesting the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition is different, with all finalists going on a three-day study tour of the Central Plateau and Waikato regions. During the tour they will compete in a practical skills session and they also have a final interview component.
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, New Zealand Farm Source, Ravensdown, and Triplejump, along with industry partner Primary ITO.
See this website for more information on the finalists and awards programme.