Fi­nal­ists pas­sion­ate about farm­ing

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

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.

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