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The winners of the 2012 Bay of Plenty Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year,Richard and Amy Fowler, thrive on the diversity offered by the dairy industry.
The couple took out the top award and more than $14,000 in cash and prizes at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards held at the Awakeri Events Centre last night. The night’s other big winners were Grant Clark, who won the Farm Manager of the Year title and Brandon Law, the 2012 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.
All three winners are working on family farms.
Richard and Amy Fowler say they thoroughly enjoy dairy farming. “If offers a fantastic lifestyle with a young family, allowing us to enjoy work and play both off the farm and on.”
The couple is in their fifth season in the industry, and is 50% sharemilking 345 cows for Richard’s parents, John and Linda Fowler, on 115ha at Te Puke.
Prior to entering the industry Richard Fowler was operations manager for Landcorp and Amy Fowler worked for Sport Bay of Plenty before starting their family.
They have entered the awards twice previously, welcoming the opportunity for an outsiders view on their performance. “We are looking forward to using the feedback from having entered previously to improve certain parts of our business and presenting again to the judges who can give us another view.”
The Fowlers say they enjoy goal-setting. “Having both come from strategic backgrounds prior to hands-on dairy farming, we know the importance of having direction and targets to achieve. We enjoy doing the hard yards and the sense of satisfaction when we achieve targets.”
Their long term goal is to purchase the family farm within 10 years. In the short term the Fowlers would like to expand their sharemilking business, by either growing the family farm or purchasing another farm while retaining their current position.
The couple is also busy off-farm, Richard Fowler was National President of New Zealand Young Farmers for two years until July 2011 and Amy Fowler completed two marathons last year.
Te Puke lower order sharemilker Rob Bryan placed second in the contest winning $7150 in prizes, and Tony and Aimee Parton, also lower order sharemilking at Te Puke, were third winning $5250.
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.
Waimana contract milker Grant Clark gained the recognition he was after in winning the Bay of Plenty Farm Manager of the Year title and collecting $6800 in cash and prizes.
It was the first time Mr Clark had entered the contest, doing so to prove to himself that he deserved to be in his position. “I now know that I’m on the right track to improve the farm’s performance.”
He is currently milking 450 cows for his father, Bernie Clark, and his goal is to be sharemilking 1000 cows in or around Waimana within six years.
Te Puke farm manager Joshua Wadsworth placed second in the farm manager contest, winning $3600, and Galatea farm manager Shaun Bicknell was third, winning $1800 in prizes.
In his first full season dairy farming, Whakatane 19-year-old farm assistant Brandon Law has won the 2012 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year title and $5300 in prizes.
“I was encouraged by my parents and employers, Alan and Wendy Law, to enter and after looking at the information about the competition I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet some new people and get a feeling of where I am in the industry compared to other trainees.”
Mr Law says he has always wanted to be a dairy farmer and, while at school worked casually and as a relief milker. “I enjoy the information and mentoring that is available to young people in the industry and I like researching information and new ideas in order to maximise production by making better use of the resources available on our farm.”
He plans to be managing a larger dairy farm within two years and use the traditional dairy pathway to achieve his long term goal of farm ownership.
Te Puke herd manager Scott Wilks was second in the dairy trainee contest, winning $650 in prizes and Whakatane herd manager Thomas Blackett placed third, winning $350.
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.
Bay of Plenty Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Richard and Amy Fowler, will host a field day on March 29, while Bay of Plenty Farm Manager of the Year, Grant Clark, will host a field day on the Waimana farm he manages on April 5. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.
Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:
BlackmanSpargo Legal Audit Award – Rob Bryan
DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Rob Bryan
Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Tony & Aimee Parton
Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Richard & Amy Fowler
Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Rob Bryan
LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Mark & Nika Booker
Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Braden & Leanne Calder
Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Tony & Aimee Parton
Westpac Business Performance Award – Richard & Amy Fowler
Farm Manager Merit Awards:
DairyNZ Human Resource Management Award – Brett Grindrod
RD1 Farm Management Award – Josh Wadsworth
Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Shaun Bicknell
Dairy Trainee Merit Award:
· AgITO Farming Knowledge Merit Award – Keith Wise