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Family Business Wins Regional Dairying Award

Strong Family Business Partnership Wins Regional Dairying Award

A strong business partnership and family unit built on an ability to work together has helped Oamaru-based Neil and Julie Hamilton win the Farm Business category of the Southern South Island Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards.

The couple were announced the winners at a function in Invercargill last night. They have won a study trip for two to Fonterra's international markets and the right to compete in the national final in Hamilton on June 27.

The Hamiltons say one of the main strengths of their farming enterprise is the ability to work together as a couple.

"We always enjoy working together and recognise that we both have different strengths," Mr Hamilton says.

"When pulled together we make both a very strong business partnership and family unit.

"Our skills are in different areas and we acknowledge this and encourage each other to do the things we do well."

The Hamiltons milk 540 cows on 162 hectares, and are currently 75 per cent through a programme of redeveloping the farm's irrigation system, including full re-grassing and re-fencing, and renewing stock water schemes. The remaining 25 per cent of redevelopment will be completed during winter.

"During this phase of redevelopment it has been our focus to maintain or increase production even though, at times, large areas of the farm have been in an unproductive state," Mr Hamilton says.

"This season, we are milking 30 less cows than last season, but overall production is up 6000kg/ms to date."

The Hamiltons converted to dairying from sheep farming in 1990. They say dairy farming has been good to them as a couple, and family, with many opportunities and challenges, and they are looking forward to continuing their involvement in the industry.

Awards Chairman and Fonterra Director Jim van der Poel says the awards aim to assist Fonterra's 17,000-farmer supply base to maintain their on-farm efficiencies and position as the world's most cost-effective milk producers in the world.

"This underpins our ability to prosper in the global market," he says.

Westpac General Manager Business Banking Bruce McLachlan says another aim of the awards is to profile dairy industry excellence and promote information exchange, through benchmarking and best practice.

"We believe recognising the best the dairy industry has to offer encourages innovation and sets the benchmark for this country's drive into global markets."

The Hamiltons work by the philosophy of "leading rather than being pushed." The couple have pursued their own farm environment policies, and are involved in the North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group (NOSLAM).

They have also developed a folder of policies governing their farming areas, covering issues such as farm management through to farm health and safety, and animal health, which has assisted them in achieving an ISO14001 Environmental management accreditation.

"It is a manual that has grown to encompass every part of our operation and is an invaluable source of information for both ourselves and our staff."

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 Southern South Island award winners were: Business Growth - Ad and Thea Bekker Quality Management - Neil and Julie Hamilton Environment - Chris and Claire Welch Farm Manager - Martin and Rebecca Gay Lifetime Achievement - Jim Flett

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