The 2012 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards aim to change some urban perceptions of the country’s dairy farmers and the dairy industry.
Awards executive committee chair Matthew Richards says the 2012 awards will culminate with a series of activities in Auckland that leads into the national awards dinner, where the winners of the 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.
“We want Auckland and the rest of the country to witness the bright, talented and well presented individuals that are working hard on this country’s dairy farms to drive the dairy industry forward as the global leader that it is.
“Many of our past winners have gone on to leadership roles within the industry and we expect many of our current winners will be the industry’s future leaders,” Mr Richards, a Southland dairy farmer, says.
The 2012 awards were launched today on the Gordonton farm, near Hamilton, where 2011 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year Jason and Lisa Suisted farm.
Jason and Lisa Suisted said they initially entered the awards to “stand out from the pack” when applying for sharemilking positions. They have gained considerably more.
“What we did not know at the time was how much we were going to learn both about ourselves and our business. We’ve been able to fine tune some of our farm systems and the awards had also allowed us to work side by side, highlighting the strengths we both bring to the business.”
Mr Suisted says the awards challenged them and forced them to take a brutal and critical look at their business.
“The benefits from this have paid off immensely.”
The Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner AgITO.
Mr Richards says changes to the 2011 awards, in particular enabling equity farmers to enter the sharemilker contest and restricting the age group in the dairy trainee contest, had been well received.
“One of our equity farmer entrants won one of the 12 regional competitions and restricting the age had the effect of increasing the standard and making the contest tighter within the dairy trainee competition.”
About 200 of the 500 entries the awards had received in each of the past two years have come from the dairy trainee contest.
“The dairy trainee contest is proving hugely popular and it’s really pleasing to follow the progress of past trainee entrants, as they enter one of the other contests on their way towards farm ownership.”