The 2011 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year, Jason Halford, is now the proud owner of his own herd, sharemilking 280 cows at Opiki, Horowhenua.
“I was ready for the next step and I think sharemilking is a great sector to be in and owning cows is a big positive.”
Mr Halford is co-ordinating the 2012 dairy trainee of the year contest for the Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua regional competition, one of 12 regional competitions held nationwide by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.
He says the experience of winning the national farm manager title has been great. Opportunities continue to present themselves and he has received many invitations.
“The highlight of it all was winning the award as it gives you real confidence that what you are doing is on the right track.”
It has also made him consider what he is doing on farm. “It’s made me think more about what I do, about the environment and about all those principles that I have applied in the past and still do now. Once you win a competition, there’s a responsibility to make sure you are doing everything right.”
The New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year contest is run by the Dairy Industry Awards, which also oversees the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year contests.
Mr Halford encourages people to enter the awards, whether they believe they can win or not. “Give it a go and don’t be scared that you might not be the best and win it. Challenge yourself and find out where you are at as you can only get better.
“I think the dairy industry awards are positive for putting you out there as it’s good for your hard work to be recognised. The awards are also an excellent way to fast track your career.”
The 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 Halford says progressing to sharemilking, from farm managing, has been a big change. “You realise the difference between farm managing and sharemilking, where there is a hell of a lot more responsibility. You need to make sure everything is organised as the buck stops with you.”
He is also discovering new challenges of 50% sharemilking his herd on John Seymour’s 90ha property by himself. “It’s quite a change when you have to do everything by yourself. You see how organised you really are and you can be organised and still not get everything done!”
Entries in the 2012 awards open on November 1 and will be accepted online at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.