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2024 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award Recipients Beyond Impressive

James and Debbie Stewart from Dairylands in Manawatū were named the 2024 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award recipients during the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Gala dinner on Saturday night and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

The prestigious award, which received more than twenty nominations across all regions this year, was created to recognise and celebrate dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are passionate about the four pillars of Responsible Dairying – people and community, finance, environment and animal welfare.

“We were left with one big question following our time with Debbie and James – what more could anyone do to demonstrate the notion of ‘responsible dairying’?” says head panellist Michael Hide.

“Their passion, professionalism and leadership within the industry across all aspects of their business is beyond impressive and only surpassed by their dedication to giving back to their local community.”

The selection panel noted that all of the National Nominee farms were uniquely different and achieving great things in their own ways.

“It was truly inspirational for us as the national selection panel to see the amazing things that they’ve all been doing in their businesses.”

The panellists were impressed with the Stewarts outward understanding of the dairy industry, its importance to New Zealand and the importance to build their own story and brand.

“They are supporting the future of people within the sector and this can be seen in their significant staff retention and in the way people are stimulated by working in an ‘open air office’.

“James and Debbie are aware of their roles as ambassadors for the dairy industry and their community engagement is evident with the farm designed from an ‘Open Farm’ perspective,” says Michael.

The couple embrace the past and plan for the future with 3km of streamside planting and a walkway, with an intergenerational feel.

“James and Debbie don’t do things by halves, they have a strong, consolidated business but are by no means resting on their laurels.”