Young farm­ers bat­tle it out

South Waikato News - - Community Cookbook - JO LINES-MACKEN­ZIE

These days, young farm­ers need to know how to do more than just ‘‘pulling tits in a cow­shed’’ .

Eight con­tes­tants bat­tled it out to be the best of the best in the Waikato/bay of Plenty re­gion’s Young Farm­ers fi­nal in Te Awa­mutu on Satur­day.

The win­ner was Richard French from Re­poroa, who earned a spot in the grand fi­nal in July.

There were five dairy and three sheep farm­ers put through their paces, hav­ing al­ready done an exam on Fri­day night. On Satur­day they had eight mod­ules to com­plete, in­clud­ing an HR in­ter­view be­fore a quiz on Satur­day night.

Waikato/bay of Plenty re­gional man­ager and judge James Bryan ac­knowl­edges there are many more ca­reer op­tions within agri­cul­ture these days, so it’s im­por­tant to ex­pose upcoming in­dus­try lead­ers to those op­tions.

‘‘Agri­cul­ture is more than pulling tits in a cow­shed,’’ Bryan said.

‘‘Twenty years ago, they [com­peti­tors] would be out there do­ing a bit of plough­ing or a bit of work with horses. These days we have HR mod­ules as peo­ple lead­er­ship be­comes more im­por­tant. We have in­ter­views where they talk about their in­volve­ment with tech­nol­ogy on the farm.’’

Bryan had strict cri­te­ria he was mark­ing on.

‘‘Health and safety is a ma­jor thing for us these days so, we want to make sure the com­peti­tors are be­ing safe and are look­ing af­ter the safety of oth­ers. We’re look­ing at the qual­ity of work­man­ship, in terms of shear­ing, the qual­ity of shear­ing. We’re look­ing for their knowl­edge of the prod­ucts, knowl­edge of an­i­mals.

‘‘Ev­ery mod­ule is dif­fer­ent and ev­ery con­tes­tant has a dif­fer­ent level of skill de­pend­ing on what the mod­ule is.

‘‘We have univer­sity grad­u­ates to guys who have been milk­ing cows their whole life.

‘‘There are some who haven’t han­dled a sheep be­fore. But at the same time, it’s about de­vel­op­ing those con­tes­tants,’’ Bryan said.

One of those who hoped his lack of sheep han­dling wouldn’t hin­der him was Waikato/pi­ako rep­re­sen­ta­tive Eion O’mahoney.

‘‘Be­ing a dairy farmer, it’s a bit dif­fi­cult.’’ There were a few tricky ques­tions, but oth­er­wise it’s kind of as ex­pected - noth­ing too out of the or­di­nary.’’

The Young Farmer of the Year com­pe­ti­tion be­gan in 1969.

JO LINES-MACKEN­ZIE/FAIR­FAX NZ

Con­tes­tants built a bar leaner as one of their tasks in the Waikato/bay of Plenty Young Farm­ers re­gional fi­nal

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