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Goal-Setting Pays Off For Patons

Goal-Setting Pays Off For Patons

Northland has provided the first finalist in the 2003 Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards, with Whangarei dairy farmers Bruce and Julie Paton winning the region's competition.

At an awards function in Whangarei last night, the Patons won the Northland title and the prize of an overseas study trip for two to Fonterra's markets. They also became the first finalist for the national award to be announced in Hamilton on June 27.

The Patons skills in human resources and farm productivity were also recognised, as they picked up the two specialist performance awards for those areas.

The Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards are supported by Dexcel and sponsored by Fonterra, Westpac, Holden New Zealand, Ravensdown, DTS, Livestock Improvement, Pioneer, RD1 and Fegan and Co.

The Patons run two dairy farm operations 7km apart on State Highway One at Mata, near Whangarei, and are former winners of the Westpac Northland Dairy Supplier of the Year and the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competitions.

Their 'home' farm is 273 hectares, of which they own 150ha and lease the remaining. The second farm is 64 hectares, which they lease. They also lease another 250 hectare property that is mainly used for rearing replacement stock.

"We entered the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards to extend our knowledge of farming and financial management. We also entered to win, so we're really pleased to have achieved that goal," the Patons say.

Goal-setting is something the couple do well. Some of their personal and business objectives include to build a new house by 2007, achieve a return on equity of more than 10% each year, increase their net worth by 7% a year and to spend at least 50% of their working time on tactical and strategic business management. They also want to have a bull in the Premier Sires team, develop two wetland areas and have a positive work environment.

The couple are actively involved in the dairy industry off the farm. Bruce completed a Shareholders' Council introductory training programme this year, Julie judged the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition in 2002 and 2003, and both of them are on the committee of this year's Large Herds Conference, where they are also speakers.

During the Northland awards evening, special recognition was made of the late Hugh Kirton's contribution to the dairy industry. A Consulting Officer for many years, Hugh's work was recognised with a Holden Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Hugh was a man before his time in most aspects of dairy farming," former Dairy Board director Mac Gordon, of Waipu, says.

"On his own farm with Phil van der Bijl who worked for him, they pioneered two people milking 350 cows. This was unheard of in those days when it generally took two people to milk 100 cows, so Hugh was instrumental in improving dairy farming efficiency in a whole lot of ways," Mr Gordon says.

"Hugh was always thinking outside the square and he was very apt at stirring up farmers at discussion group meetings and making them take a hard look at themselves and what they are doing on their farms."

"He had a very practical approach to everything he did. However, at the same time he was very interested in the latest research and was always suggesting research topics to scientists so they could find solutions to problems he identified in the field," Mr Gordon says.

Some of Hugh's greatest work involved devising wintering pads or barns for wintering cattle off Northland's heavy pastures.

The Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards are being run in seven regions, with the winner of each region progressing to the national final. Tickets to the regional dinners can be purchased by phoning 0800 273 759 or online at , where information on the awards can also be obtained. Other Northland award recipients: * Business Growth - Anne and Andrew Fraser * Quality Management - Evan and Sheerlene Smeath * Environment - Glen and Joanne Inger and Danny and Heather Woodcock * Farm Manager - Grahame and Ann Roberts

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