Snapshot Of Dairy Farming Life
Snapshot Of Dairy Farming Life Emerges In Farmer Of The Year Award Entries
If there’s one generalisation you can make about New Zealand dairy farmers, it’s that you can forget generalisations. With all the entries now in for the inaugural Westpac Trust NZMP Farmer of the Year competition, a fascinating picture is emerging of New Zealand dairy farming in the 21st Century. Almost every possible business structure, family set-up, farm environment, size and system can be seen in the world-class entries.
“We have every region in the country represented - from the Far North to Southland,” says Award Chairman and Fonterra director Gerard Lynch.
“Early indications are the standard of entries is extremely high. I don’t envy the judges the task ahead of them.”
While there are many entrants who have been dairy farmers all their lives, there are some newcomers - including recent immigrants as well as farmers who have recently converted a sheep or beef farm to a dairy operation.
Mr Lynch says the variety reflects the rapid rate at which the dairy industry has been growing during the past four years. “This year we are seeing record returns to farmers for their milk. This growth is a reflection of the confidence in the infrastructure and the industry.”
WestpacTrust Head of North Island Agribusiness Tony Bradley says it’s been fascinating to note the wide variety of business structures represented. “We are seeing entries from third generation farmers working the family farm as well as a variety of different partnerships - such as equity partnerships running three separate farming operations, or partnerships between two generations in the same family, or sharemilkers and farm owners.
“The clear message coming through is farmers are finding many different styles of business structures to suit their operation and lifestyle.”
Mr Bradley explains that, because of the vast differences in topography, soil type, climate, size of business spread across the 70 entries, judges will take into account a raft of different factors to ensure entrants can be judged fairly against one another.
“One of the most important aspects is looking at the objectives of each business and what is being done to achieve those objectives,” he says.