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Judging Starts For Dairy Excellence Winners

Judging Starts For Dairy Excellence Winners

Judging in the national final of the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards gets underway in earnest this week as the panel begins the search for the best dairy farmer and farm manager in the country.

The Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards aim to profile dairy farming excellence and promote information exchanges, through benchmarking and best practice.

The awards were launched in November last year and attracted entries from more than 80 farmers.

Awards Chairman Jim van der Poel says the national judging process will be rigorous and independent.

"The judging process is a challenging time for the entrants and judges alike, as they seek to showcase strengths and identify weaknesses. While the judging is only for a three-hour period, many of the competitors feel quite exhausted after.

"While discussing farm management practices entrants and judges often exchange information and ideas on where improvements can be made to the farm business," Mr van der Poel says.

Westpac's newly appointed Head of Agribusiness Manager Karen Silk says the judges will be measuring farmers against the criteria of financial performance, asset growth and productivity.

"It is an intensive time, with the process identifying some innovative management solutions farmers are applying to their farm business operations. These solutions can then be profiled and adopted by other farmers to lift their productivity."

During April and May seven regional awards finals were held identifying regional winners in the Farm Business, Farm Manager and Environment categories.

Those regional winners now compete in the grand final with the national winners announced at a black tie awards evening in Hamilton on June 27.

The seven finalists in the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Farm Business Award are:
* Bruce and Julie Paton, Northland
* Adrian and Pauline Ball, Hauraki Piako
* Pete Morgan and Ann Bouma, North West Waikato
* George and Sharon Moss, Bay of Plenty South Waikato
* Michael and Heather Burmeister, Lower North Island
* Russell and Leanne Clearwater, Northern South Island
* Neil and Julie Hamilton, Lower South Island

Farm Business judges - Westpac Agribusiness Manager Lachie McLeod, Dexcel Consulting Officer Anna Bayly and dairy farmer Stephen O'Neil - will visit each farm for three hours, judging them on their business growth, quality management, human resources, productivity and environment.

The winner will receive a Holden vehicle and $10,000 cash. The awards are supported by Dexcel and sponsored by Fonterra, Westpac, Holden New Zealand, Ravensdown, DTS, Livestock Improvement, Pioneer, RD1 and Fegan and Co.

The seven finalists in the Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Farm Manager Award are competing for a $5000 cash prize. They are:
* Grahame and Ann Roberts, Northland
* Robert Short and Alice Rae, Hauraki Piako
* Colm and Gaynor Tierney, North West Waikato
* Shannan Wadsworth, Bay of Plenty South Waikato
* Brent Pocock, Lower North Island
* Darin Bradley, Northern South Island
* Martin and Rebecca Gay, Southern South Island

Fegan and Co Director John Fegan and Fonterra Director-elect John Wilson, a Te Awamutu dairy farmer, are the Farm Manager Award judges, selecting the overall winner from criteria including their personal goals, financial performance, human resources, productivity and livestock management.

Tickets to the national final being held in the Bledisloe Hall, at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton are available on 0800 273 759.

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