Dunedin City Council hosted the official launch of The National Bank Young Farmer Contest for 2012 in Dunedin on Friday (January 20th).
The launch was attended by former winners of the Contest, New Zealand Young Farmer’s Patron Eric Roy, Parliamentary Representatives, Councillors, Contest Officials and Sponsors.
The Contest will make the most of Dunedin’s wide range of facilities. Invermay Agricultural Research Centre will play host to the Technical Day, the Practical Day will be held in the new Forsyth Barr Stadium and the Edgar Centre is the venue for the Grand Final Televised Evening Show. Elliot Scott, a former NZYF Board Member and Grand Finalist, will convene the 2012 Grand Final.
Mayor Dave Cull described the Contest as hugely important; “it tests the skills and knowledge that underpin our country’s primary production sector.”
He applauded the Contestants on their knowledge of a wide variety of farming practices. “It’s an extremely demanding Contest; so I have enormous admiration for those who enter it.”
Mr Cull said the Contest was very important for Dunedin as farming plays a big part in the local economy and contributes to the character of Dunedin. “The fact that the final will be contested here gives our city the opportunity to display and celebrate our city’s rural farming side.”
The National Bank Young Farmer Contest’s Chairman Bevan Proffit commended the effort of those organising the Contest and said that the Contest reflects the aspirations of the New Zealand Young Farmers organisation.
“In all of the 43 years the Young Farmer Contest has been running; the viewpoint has always been the same: to encourage excellence in agriculture by providing personal development with leadership growth and improvement of practical skills.
“The Prestige and desire to wear the Cloak of Knowledge still plays a huge part in the Young Farmer organisation and in the Young Farmer’s mind.”
Mr Proffit was looking forward to a fresh new look at the Evening Shows after some restructuring and the introduction of new compere Craig Wiggins.
He also announced Silver Fern Farms as the new Gold Tier Sponsor after Isuzu moved to become NZYF’s preferred vehicle supplier.
NZYF CEO Richard Fitzgerald said that “the Contest embodies the aspirations of our organisation: real people, real experiences, making a difference.”
He spoke about the challenges facing farmers in the future and the need to double production over the next 40 years.
“The demands on the next generation will be greater than we have seen so far. They’ll need to not only be talented farm managers and business people, but talented leaders and visionaries. They’ll need to be people that can juggle multiple outcomes for multiple stakeholders. It will be a complicated environment; but this is the world that NZYF is preparing its people for.”
“Come to the Grand Final in May; there you’ll enjoy the Ultimate Rural Challenge and I’m sure you’ll be confident that our future is good hands.”
Mr Fitzgerald also said that NZYF Membership had grown over 700% since 2006 and spoke about NZYF’s talent pipeline that runs right from AgriKidsNZ through to the new Rural Business Network that will focus on higher level business management strategies and governance.
John Bennett from The National Bank (General Manager Central – Commercial and Agri) described the bank’s involvement in the Contest as “very important” and said that the Contest is “one of New Zealand’s iconic agri events.”
“We see this as a platform to develop life skills and encourage participation. It’s about developing Agribusiness leaders, across New Zealand as a whole, who will continue to drive the sector from strength to strength.”
2011 Contest Champion Will Grayling believes that the Contest was “unrivalled in New Zealand and probably around the world.”
He also spoke about the importance of taking advantage of all opportunities that had presented themselves after his win. “It’s a Privilege to be the Young Farmer of the year and these opportunities may not present themselves in the future.”
“It’s always been a goal of mine because it is New Zealand’s ultimate and most prestigious agriculture competition.”
Mr Grayling said that above all the benefits of being named as the Contest Champion were the contacts and friendships that he had made.
Regional Finals for The National Bank Young Farmer Contest begin in Balclutha on February 12th and the Grand Final will be held in Dunedin from May 24th – May 26th.