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Fonterra, Westpac To Launch 2004 Excellence Awards


For immediate release
September 24, 2003

FONTERRA AND WESTPAC TO LAUNCH 2004 DAIRY EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Maintaining New Zealand's reputation for excellence behind the farm gate was the theme for today's launch (Wednesday, September 24) of the 2004 Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards in the heart of the Waikato dairying district.

New Fonterra CEO Andrew Ferrier and chairman Henry van der Heyden commented on the world leading position of New Zealand farmers at the launch held on the Tirau property of last year's winners, Adrian and Pauline Ball.

"This is my first chance to be on a dairy farm since I arrived," said Mr Ferrier. " New Zealand dairy farmers have a strong reputation worldwide and from the little I've seen so far if this is the standard that others have to meet I can see why this competition is so hard to win."

Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden reiterated the competition's goal to share and improve farming knowledge amongst Fonterra's supplier base.

"Those entering the competition are our leading farmers and our industry leaders of the future. New Zealand is recognised as perhaps the most efficient producer of milk in the world - that's a competitive edge we must retain if Fonterra is to succeed in its goal, to lead in Dairy," says Mr van der Heyden.

"To maintain that edge we need to ensure our suppliers are up with the latest developments on farm and this competition assists in that knowledge sharing goal. I know last year's winners found the opportunities to swap and share knowledge were very beneficial and several of them used this competition to benchmark the progress they were making with their operations against the best in the business."

Westpac's Head of Agribusiness Karen Silk reiterated that the awards provide a key learning tool for anyone that enters.

"As at July 31, $19.3 billion is estimated to be lent to the agri sector, making it a significant industry for New Zealand. It's not just about milking cows anymore - farmers need to be informed about all aspects of running a farm from human resources to the financial requirements - including off farm investment." says Ms Silk.

"Keeping up with new trends and developments is also vital if the dairy industry is going to continue to compete globally. 'Once a day' milking is an example of this. The idea was developed at the Whareroa Research Centre, trialled and is now being successfully implemented on farms throughout New Zealand. Just imagine the impact this could have on dairy farmers performance - let alone their lives! It is a great industry and we are operating in exciting times".

The Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards recognise, promote and celebrate excellence in eight categories of dairy farming and dairy farm management. The categories are:

Supreme award:

Fonterra Westpac Farm Business of the Year Award

Stand-alone award:

Holden NZ Lifetime Achievement Award

Performance awards:

RD1 Farm Manager Award DTS Environment Award Pioneer Business Growth Award Livestock Improvement Productivity Award Ravensdown Quality Management Award Human Wealth Award

The awards promote information exchanges, through benchmarking and best practice. More than $150,000 in prizes plus the opportunity to visit one of Fonterra's overseas markets (last year it was South America) are at stake.

Competition Chairman and Fonterra Director Jim Van der Poel says the key objectives are to promote and highlight best practice with other Fonterra farmers to benchmarking their performance against the best of the competition. This will assist to maintain and raise the performance of Fonterra's supply base to help achieve the annual productivity challenge outlined in Fonterra's strategy.

"Our most recent awards were a great success with judges commenting, "if the future of the dairy industry in New Zealand is in the hands of these sorts of people, then we have nothing to worry about going forward'," says Mr Van der Poel.

"We believe that the 2003 winners set a benchmark that will lift the 2004 standard even higher as we promote best practice among our 17,000 shareholders and sharemilkers."

The awards have been slightly revised to 2003 with environment becoming one of the five performance awards and the Human Resources award is now called Human Wealth to reflect that this is not only about staff, but also lifestyle, community and industry.

The other performance awards are Productivity, Business Growth and Quality Management while the eight regions are Northland, Waikato North/West, Waikato East, Waikato South/Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Lower North Island, Northern South Island and Southern South Island.

Adrian and Pauline Ball, the 2003 overall winners, encouraged fellow dairy farmers to enter the 2004 awards.

"The Dairy Excellence Awards gave us the opportunity to benchmark our business regionally and nationally against our peers and share our respective strengths," says Mr Ball. "It was very worthwhile".

Fonterra suppliers wishing to enter the awards should contact their local Field Representative or visit www.dairyexcellenceawards.co.nz for further information.

ENDS


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