Finalists passionate about farming
The eleven 2014 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists are together managing 5200 cows producing more than two million kilograms of milksolids.
‘‘ These finalists represent a group of dairy farm employees that work extremely hard and put in long hours to harvest the country’s sought after fresh milk in the most cost effective, sustainable and efficient manner,’’ National convenor Chris Keeping said.
‘‘The finalists are also passionate about what they do and are keen to progress their dairy industry career.’’
The winner will be announced at the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner in Auckland on May 9. At the sold out black tie dinner, winners will also be named in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions and all winners will share more than $ 170,000 in prizes.
Mrs Keeping said the farm manager finalists include six farm managers and five contract milkers. Most have entered the awards before, with just three entering this year for the first time.
The youngest finalist, Michael Shearer representing the Taranaki region, is just 21 years old and is also one of the more experienced finalists having previously won the West Coast Top of the South regional Dairy Trainee of the Year title.
The oldest finalist is Robert Hartley representing the Central Plateau region. The 36-year-old worked in information technology (IT) before switching careers to dairy farming and is now managing an 865-cow farm.
Mr Shearer and Mr Hartley are among the nine males competing against two couples for the title. One of the couples, Thomas Blackett and Stacey Lepper representing Bay of Plenty, are also new to the industry having also changed careers. Mr Blackett was a design engineer at Fisher & Paykel and Ms Lepper was a laboratory technician at AgResearch.
‘‘The financial gains possible and family- friendly lifestyle offered by the dairy industry is helping to attract more skilled and talented people to the industry. It’s great to see,’’ Mrs Keeping says.
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, RD1 and Triplejump, along with industry partner Primary ITO.
Finalist: Waikato’s farm manager of the year Liam Zander is representing his region proudly.