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One week to enter NZ's biggest farming competition

Press release

23 January 2002

Only one week left to enter New Zealand's biggest farming competition


Entries close in one week for New Zealand's biggest ever farming competition.

With $300,000 worth of prizes on offer, the inaugural WestpacTrust NZMP Farmer of the Year competition is open to 95 per cent of New Zealand dairy farmers and introduces a fresh new approach to judging criteria.

WestpacTrust and NZMP, one of the two major operating divisions of Fonterra Co-operative Group, are the two key sponsors of the nation's premier farming award for 2002 and the future.

“In the past, agriculture has tended to focus on the technical process of converting sunlight and soil and pasture into meat or wool and milk," says award chairman and Fonterra Co-operative Group director Gerard Lynch. "But increasingly we need to see farm enterprises as businesses which absolutely and equally rely on human input, business acumen and sustainability in the environment. This is now reflected in the awards.”

The judging criteria have been formulated to take into account a whole range of factors - such as length of time farming, resources available, and particular difficulties faced by the business.

“We are looking for entrants at all stages in their career - from those who are just starting out, to those who have been farming for 20 years and are now putting the kids through university, to those approaching retirement. The judging is structured to take into account different stages as well as factors such as difficult climatic or environmental conditions," he says.

“At the end of the day the competition is judged according to what these farmers really want out of their business and how well they are achieving their objectives with the resources available. It's worth any hard-working, passionate farmer having a shot.”

WestpacTrust general manager business Julian Nalepa agrees. "The key goal of the competition is to promote dairy farming excellence.

“We're doing that by identifying farm enterprises which are achieving greatness in all areas of their business. The winners of this competition will be ambassadors for New Zealand farming world wide," he says.

“They are among the best dairy farmers in the world, they set a benchmark for all other dairy farmers to aspire to and they will be able to easily communicate the secrets of their success to other farmers.”

Taranaki farmers Neville and Beverley Adern, regional winners of another industry accolade, are good examples of farmers making the best of some tough environmental factors.

"The win was really gratifying for us because we are not your typical third generation flat land farmers," says Neville.

“We bought our original 80 hectares then joined on another two separate blocks of very rough, run down land which everyone around here told us not to touch! That was in the early 1990s, and we also built a 50 bale rotary cowshed at the time, so we had a big mortgage and we really have done it the hard way.”

Over the years the Aderns have worked hard to develop the property, all the while managing good production both per cow and per hectare - despite the fact a lot of their farm has still not fully developed. Neville is particularly pleased that the judging criteria have changed to reflect difficulties posed by harsh land or lack of financial resources.

“We started out with very little and did everything the hard way and I think these competitions in the past have tended to focus on production per hectare and if you are on second class land, you can't compete on that basis. But with the changes to the judging criteria, farmers like us really do stand an excellent chance.

“I'd like to encourage people who have not entered the competition in the past because of the way these competitions were structured to think about entering this time. You may as well have a crack! Beverley and I found the whole experience so rewarding. The highlights for us were seeing how you stacked up against other farmers and meeting new people. Winning Taranaki was fantastic - to know we were the pick of the bunch and that we did that on second class land was a thrill." Otago dairy farmers Stephen and Rhonda Korteweg, national winners of a previous industry accolade are good examples of farmers who needed a bit of encouragement to enter an competition. The couple had never entered a farming competition in more than 20 years of farming, but at the encouragement of their local WestpacTrust representative, they decided to give it a go.

“I had always had an inkling to want to benchmark my own business," says Stephen.

“You can benchmark against statistics to give you a bit of an idea but that's a bit like running a race against a watch - it's better running against other competitors.”

Stephen and Rhonda found one of the highlights of the event was the opportunity to get to know other competitors and compare notes about farming styles and practices.

"It made us feel a bit better about where we are going, what we are doing and also added a bit of new energy to it," says Stephen. Then there was the win .

“We had never entered anything like that before so we never imagined we were going to win the top prize," says Rhonda.

“So that was a great surprise.”

Gerard Lynch believes it's time New Zealand celebrated the enterprise, diligence and aspirations of dairy farmers - and the WestpacTrust NZMP Farmer of the Year competition is a great way to do that.

"The average dairy farm business enterprise has a capital value in excess of a couple of million dollars so they are substantial business people in their own right - probably more so than the retailers on high street stores in most towns. Yet they are dealing with all sorts of pressures those other people don't have to deal with; such as their reliance on the weather and the fact that New Zealand's clean green image is dependent on the way they sustain their environment - and that's something farmers take very seriously.”

Entries to the WestpacTrust NZMP Farmer of the Year competition are open to Fonterra suppliers from all over New Zealand - with an estimated 95 per cent of the nation's dairy farmers eligible to enter. The awards have a strong regional focus with entrants competing first for prizes in eight regions. The eight winners will then go on to compete for the WestpacTrust NZMP Farmer of the Year 2002 title and a $95,000 prize pool which includes a first prize of $50,000 Holden LTD Rodeo 4x4, travel to the value of $10,000 and $15,000 cash. The final day for entries to be received is 31 January 2002. For more information about the WestpacTrust NZMP Farmer of the Year competition, visit www.fencepost.com or www.rd1.com, call Fonterra Supplier Services on 0800 806 455 or 0800 656 568 or email foty@fonterra.com.

For further information contact Julian Nelapa, WestpacTrust General Manager Business Telephone c/o Darragh O'Riordan 09 302 4471

Gerard Lynch Director Fonterra Co-operative Group director Telephone 06 3423811

Deborah Pead, Award publicist Pead PR Telephone 09 918 5550, Mobile 021 612 919 e-mail deborah @peadpr.co.nz

Note to sub Prior to the merger of Fonterra legacy companies NZ Dairy Group and Kiwi dairies, WestpacTrust was a naming right sponsor of the WestpacTrust Kiwi dairies Farmer of the Year competition. This is the "other industry award" referred to in the above copy.


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