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Patea Couple Win Taranaki Farmer Of The Year

Excellent All-Round Performance Earns Patea Couple Taranaki Title In Farmer Of The Year 2002

Patea farmers David and Lois Werder have won the Taranaki regional title in the WestpacTrust NZMP Farmer of the Year 2002 competition.

The Werder's were also the recipients of one performance award - The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Dairy Management Award.

Their win was announced on Tuesday April 23 at the Taranaki regional awards dinner in New Plymouth. David and Lois will compete for the national title in Hamilton on June 29.

"What a great surprised," David Werder says."We entered this competition to provide ourselves with a benchmark of where we stand in farming.

"We have had great support from family and friends and it has been nerve wracking getting this far. We'll do our best to justify everyone's support by performing well in the finals at Hamilton."

David and Lois will be holding a field day on their property in May, the date not yet confirmed. This will be an opportunity for the public to visit their farm and evaluate their operation up close, meet the sponsors and other people who make the award happen.

The WestpacTrust NZMP Farmer of the Year 2002 judges praised the Werders for their good all round business, financial monitoring and environmental sustainability and applauded their excellent dairy husbandry and quality management.

David and Lois farm 120 hectares at Kakaramea, near Patea. The pair have 230 Jersey/Jersey cross cows on 74 effective hectares. Their 24-aside herringbone cowshed is equipped with cup removers that enables David to operate the farm as a one person unit.

The couple also have 20 hectares planted in pine trees of various ages, with the first two hectares harvested last July with "very good results". The balance of the farm is in native bush.

The judges praised the Werder farm as a "superb one man unit" and also commented on David and Lois' excellent community involvement. David is a joint trustee for a 225 cow dairy farm owned by the Patea Catholic Church. He is also on the local hall committee and is vice-president of the Patea Golf Club. Lois is a teacher aide at their local school and organises the two buses which take 100 pupils from the Patea area to Hawera schools.

The runners-up to the Taranaki Regional Winners are Roger and Julie Landers of Kaponga.

"The regional finalists represent a group of farmers who have achieved excellence in all areas of their businesses. The awards process demonstrates that excellence and enables the cream of the crop to share the information with other dairy farmers," says Tony Bradley, WestpacTrust head of Agribusiness in the North Island.

"It is farmers such as the award finalists and winners who promote a positive profile for the dairy industry in New Zealand and help other farmers improve their productivity as well driving the industry to meet the 4 per cent target."

Several Farmer of the Year Performance awards were also announced at Wednesday's dinner. These included: Ballance Agri-Nutrients Dairy Management Award: David and Lois Werder of Patea Dexcel Human Resources Award: Roger and Julie Landers of Kaponga Ecolab Product Excellence Award: Barbara, Paul and Lynelle Kuriger of Midhurst Pioneer Brand Forage Products Business Performance Award: Stephen and Jane O'Neill of Stratford AnchorMart and Town and Country Agri Centres Environmental Integrity Award: Dennis & Dianna Robins, Waitara

The WestpacTrust NZMP Farmer of the Year 2002 is a premier award that attracts and recognises New Zealand's very best dairy farmers.

"Our farmers are world leaders in on-farm productivity and this, along with our quality focus, gives us a competitive edge in the marketplace," says award chairman and Fonterra director Gerard Lynch. "This competition is about recognising the cream of the crop, and sharing their expertise across our industry."

ends

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