The 2012 West Coast Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards has produced the first equity farm managers to win one of the country’s regional competitions.
The region’s premier Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title went to Paul and Debra Magner, who say it is a real advantage to have access to a group of owners with a broad range of knowledge and skills.
The West Coast Top of the South Farm Manager of the Year, James Deans, and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Michael Shearer, was also announced at an awards dinner held at Shantytown, Greymouth, last night.
The Magners have been equity managers for the past eight years for Cranley Farms, chaired by former Westland Milk Products Chairman Ian Robb. The property is 574ha and growing, and milks 1470 cows.
The couple won $14,000 in cash and prizes, and is also the oldest of the winners to date, with a background in geology, rural banking and farm consulting before entering the dairy industry. They worked for one year on wages before entering the equity partnership.
“A real strength for us is being able to grow the business through land development. This has enabled us to grow our equity at a faster rate than an established farm.”
Their goal is to increase their equity position to be majority shareholders and to maximise the production and potential of the developing farm.
The Magners entered the dairy awards for the first time as part of a learning experience and for the challenge. “We thought it would be good to enter as part of a process to review the business, as we had reached the end of a development phase.”
The runner-up in the West Coast Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year contest was Nelson equity farm managers Steve and Kerry Semmens, who won $8100 in cash and 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.
Dobson contract milker James Deans won the 2012 West Coast Top of the South Farm Manager of the Year contest, collecting $8950 in cash and prizes.
It was also Mr Deans first time entering the awards. “This is my second year contract milking and I was looking for some constructive criticism about my farming skills.”
Aged 27, he has been in the industry for 10 years and has progressed from farm hand to his current position. He aims to own stock and land within the next five to 10 years.
“My strengths are in pasture management and communication with my farm owner. I believe good residuals and good pasture are essential to great production, and that you need to have trust and confidence with the farm owner in each other’s capabilities.”
Westport farm manager Nathan Keoghan placed second in the farm manager contest and won $4000 in prizes.
The winner of the 2012 West Coast Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year, Michael Shearer, has already planned how he will achieve his goal of farm ownership.
The 19-year-old won $5050 in cash and prizes and is currently a farm assistant on an 110ha Nelson farm milking 330 cows owned by Phil and Jocelyn Riley.
With his wife, Cheryl, they have secured new jobs for the coming season and will be working together – with Mr Shearer working as a herd manager and Mrs Shearer as an assistant.
“My wife and I are saving as much as possible as we are looking at going into an equity partnership with my parents in the near future. We are looking at farms around the 250-cow size so we can run it ourselves and the plan is to take on more ownership of the farm each year and one day own our own farm.”
Second place in the dairy trainee contest went to 25-year-old Stillwater production manager Rochelle Roberts, who won $1000 in prizes. Ahaura 19-year-old farm assistant Mackenzie Everist was third and won $250.
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.
West Coast Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Paul and Debra Magner, will host a field day on April 11, while West Coast Top of the South Farm Manager of the Year, James Deans, will host a field day on the Dobson farm he manages on April 10. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.
Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:
Seales Winslow Limited Pride and Presentation Award – Peter & Paula Simons
DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Paul & Debra Magner
Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Glen & Gemma Harris
Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Steve & Kerry Semmens
Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Glen & Gemma Harris
LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Steve & Kerry Semmens
Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Tom & Abby Murton
Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Steve & Kerry Semmens
Westpac Business Performance Award – Paul & Debra Magner
Farm Manager Merit Awards:
Gordon Handy Limited Pride and Presentation Award – Nathan Keoghan
DairyNZ Human Resource Management Award – James Deans
RD1 Farm Management Award – James Deans
Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Hayden George
Dairy Trainee Merit Award:
· AgITO Farming Knowledge Merit Award – Rochelle Roberts