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Winning Manager Aiming to Change Rural Attitudes

Award Winning Manager Aiming to Change Rural Attitudes

Changing the perceptions of people in the agricultural sector towards their profession is the next challenge facing the Southern South Island's leading dairy farm managers.

Martin and Rebecca Gay won the RD1 Farm Manager Award category at the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards in Invercargill last night. The Waimate-based couple will now go on to compete against six other regional winners for the national farm manager title in Hamilton on June 27.

Mr Gay says changing the attitude of some people towards farm mangers in the agricultural sector is one of the major challenges they are facing.

"These people have a perception that managers are less valued than sharemilkers since managers haven't got equity, they haven't got the same managerial skills," he says.

"But being a professional manager, as I see myself, I have a fulltime commitment to the position without any negative stress."

Mr Gay says being free of financial concerns related to the farm allowed him to be more focused on his role.

The couple manage 1050 cows for Waimate dairy farmer Robert Smith on 550ha of land, with young stock on 190ha and the milkers on 360ha.

Production on the farm has lifted by 14 percent since the couple took on the farm manager's role in June last year.

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 farm manager award has been introduced to the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards - which have the support of Dexcel and are sponsored by Fonterra, Westpac, Holden, Pioneer, Ravensdown, RD1, DTS, Livestock Improvement, and Fegan and Co - to recognise the important role farm managers play in the industry.

The awards are run in seven regions, with the winners of the farm business and farm manager categories in each region progressing to the national final.

Tickets are available on 0800 273 759 or online at where further information on the awards is also available.

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

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