Starting a family provided the impetus for 2012 Northland Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Miles Harrison and Lucy Heffernan, to commit to the dairy industry.
The decision was a good one, as they walked away with the title and $10,400 in cash and prizes at the Northland Dairy Industry Awards held at the Waitangi Copthorne last night.
Northland’s Farm Managers of the Year, Steve and Donna Griggs, and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Benson Horsford, were also named.
Miles Harrison grew up on a dairy farm and went dairying after school for two years, before becoming a trade qualified fitter turner. He became self employed engineering in New Zealand and Australia – where he met Lucy Heffernan, a city girl and qualified hairdresser.
“We decided to move back to New Zealand in 2008 as it offered a better family life managing a dairy farm.”
After one year the couple went 30% sharemilking and this is their first season 50% sharemilking. They are milking 240 cows on a 93ha farm for Catherine Young at Wellsford.
“Now our short term goal is to increase efficiency and production in our current position, while medium term we want to work ourselves into a financial position that permits us to take advantage of opportunities in the dairy industry. Ultimately we want to grow and expand our business, allowing us to pursue other interests within the dairy industry and community.”
It was the first time they had entered the Dairy Industry Awards, doing so for personal and business growth, to network and to gain feedback on their business and future plans.
Te Kopuru lower order sharemilker Michael Rope placed second in the Northland Sharemilker/Equity farmer contest, winning $3500, as well as taking home the valuable Rockgas North Innovation Merit Award worth $13,500. It is the first time this award has been presented and the prize includes a hot water system run on LPG that is reputed to be 20% more energy efficient than electricity.
Dan Noakes, a Whangarei lower order sharemilker, was third winning $3500 in prizes.
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.
Northland Farm Managers of the Year, Steve and Donna Griggs, are contract milking 480 cows for Carl and Stephanie Gordon at Waipu. They won $6450 in prizes.
It was the first time the Griggs had entered the awards. “We entered for the experience, to gain knowledge and confidence, to meet people, and to make ourselves known.”
The couple has six children and plans to grow equity in their home and in future stock. “This will give us the flexibility to go 50:50 sharemilking or to enter an equity partnership in the next couple of years. We also plan to make sure we manage our business so we always enjoy farming.”
Dargaville Northland Agricultural Research Farm manager, Nick Wigram, placed second in the Northland farm manager contest, winning $3500 in prizes. Third place went to Northland contract milkers Zivko Rosandich and Mary Phillips, who won $1000.
The 2012 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year, Benson Horsford, aged 28, learnt the importance of career planning when he previously entered the dairy awards. Now, his career is set to take off after winning the title and collecting more than $5000 in cash and prizes.
Married with two children, Mr Horsford has been a herd manager on Jared Going’s 340-cow farm at Maromaku for more than four years, after gaining experience as a farm hand and doing farm work throughout high school.
His goal is to own a dairy farm and also run an agricultural contracting business, as he enjoys working with machinery.
Twenty-three-year-old Maromaku assistant farm manager Jake Thomson placed second and Colin Beazley, 24, a Whangarei farm assistant, was third. They won $500 and $250 respectively.
All three winners will now compete for the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year titles and a prize pool of nearly $140,000 in Auckland on May 12.
Northland Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Miles Harrison and Lucy Heffernan, will host a field day on March 29, while Northland Farm Managers of the Year, Steve and Donna Griggs, will host a field day on the Waipu farm they manage on March 22. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.
Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:
Rockgas North Innovation Award – Michael Rope
DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Dan Noakes
Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Logan & Emma Thomas
Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Michael Rope
Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Miles Harrison & Lucy Heffernan
LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Miles Harrison & Lucy Heffernan
Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Miles Harrison & Lucy Heffernan
Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Dan Noakes
Westpac Business Performance Award – Johann & Jemal Guitry
Farm Manager Merit Awards:
· Northland Regional Council Sustainable Land Management Award – Nick Wigram
· DairyNZ Human Resource Management Award – Steve & Donna Griggs
RD1 Farm Management Award – Nick Wigram
Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Steve & Donna Griggs
Dairy Trainee Merit Award:
· AgITO Farming Knowledge Merit Award – Samantha Milne