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Fonterra Names Its High Flying Farmers

Saturday June 11, 2005

Fonterra Names Its High Flying Farmers

Young farmers on their way up through the industry ranks dominated centre stage at last night's Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence National Awards dinner with two of the three supreme awards going to farmers in the early stages of their careers.

Despite stiff competition from a number of industry veterans, it was thirty-something Ashburton couple Greg and Rachel Roadley who won the Farm Business of the Year category and Taranaki couple Craig and Rebecca Sturgeon, both aged 26, who won the Farm Manager of the Year.

The third supreme award, the Mazda Lifetime Achievement Award, was given to long-time dairy industry leader Dr Alan Frampton. (see separate release)

Greg and Rachel have been dairy farming for just seven years but the judges described them as "real ambassadors for our industry".

The judges said: "Through education and hard work, they have developed the skills required to operate at the highest level. They understand the risks associated with modern dairy farming, and have created a culture of excellence that applies to every aspect of their business.

"They strive for attention to detail and in the process have taken a strong family business, reshaped it and moved it to a new level. They have truly maximised the opportunities offered and there is no doubt that they will continue to take and grow their business to much greater levels."

In addition to the overall title, Greg and Rachel also won two individual performance awards, the Livestock Improvement Corporation Productivity Award, and the DTS Environmental Integrity and Quality Management Award.

Runners-up for Farm Business of the Year were Graeme and Margaret Shaw of Te Awamutu, winners of the Waikato/King Country regional title.

The Ravensdown Business Growth award went to Corrie and Donna Smit of Edgecumbe, and the RD1 Human Wealth award to Ngatea's Peter and Karen West.

Taranaki-born-and-bred couple Craig and Rebecca Sturgeon ensured the Farm Manager of the Year title will stay in the region for at least another year.

Second-time contestants, the winning couple made an immediate impression on the judges with their "Welcome to our Farm".

The judges commented that the Sturgeons had "a passion for farming, and a strong appreciation of both the farming business and the environment it provides for them to work and live in.

"They take remarkable care of their owner's assets, and ensure farm profit is maximised. The basics of good farming practice are being delivered to an extremely high standard," the judges concluded.

As well as the overall title, Craig and Rebecca picked up the Pioneer Productivity Management award while Alastair and Louise Holmes of Temuka won the Telecom Business Planning award.

Runners-up for Farm Manager of the Year were Cambridge's Matthew Young and Sheena Slater.

Awards chairman Jim van der Poel said the winning couples demonstrated the strength of Fonterra's future.

"There is something intensely satisfying about seeing young people with such a commitment and passion for dairying. It is reassuring that New Zealand's dairy industry is in such safe and capable hands.

"At Fonterra, we talk about building a legacy for generations to come and you can see that beginning to unfold here. It is people like our finalists that ensure Fonterra continues To Lead in Dairy.

"The depth of expertise and excellence uncovered during the competition demonstrates the strength that exists within both Fonterra and the New Zealand dairy industry as a whole.

"Each of our finalists can be held up as a model of excellence. All have individual areas of expertise we can learn from. This competition is as much about sharing that knowledge and establishing best practice benchmarks as it is about selecting winners."

Westpac Head of Agribusiness Karen Silk said "The number and quality of the entries for the Dairy Excellence Awards reflects the value our farmers perceive in providing the dairy industry with leaders and role models who are willing to share best practice and foster innovation.

"The fact that the winners of two of the three major awards are in the earlier part of their careers also demonstrates that dairying in New Zealand will continue to be a dynamic and prosperous growth industry that will remain the critical industry for New Zealand's economy."

Greg and Rachel Roadley milk 1240 cows on a 363 hectare farm through two dairy sheds and operate a 320 hectare cropping and runoff block. They produced 525000 kg/ms in the 2003/04 season. The couple employs nine full-time staff.

For the past three seasons, Craig and Rebecca Sturgeon and one full-time staff member, have managed a 390-cow property for absentee owners Hugh and Darla LeFleming. The farm is 103 effective hectares coastal property in the Otakeho district.



RUNNER-UP: Graeme and Margaret Shaw, Te Awamutu

Judges Comments
"Graeme and Margaret Shaw have demonstrated a career of excellence in a simple but consistently high performing business. They have positioned themselves very strongly to allow progress in their chosen direction. Graeme and Margaret have developed a great relationship with staff to allow both parties to create excellence."

RAVENSDOWN Business Growth Award: Corrie and Donna Smit, Whakatane

Judges Comments
"Corrie and Donna have had exceptional business growth over time. They understand the importance of up-skilling themselves in defining quality assets and timing of investments........mixed with genuine hard work."

RD1 Human Wealth Award: Peter and Karen West, Ngatea
Judges Comments
"Peter and Karen excelled in creating opportunities for many young farmers. They are great promoters of the industry among young people. They have been able to obtain a healthy balance between business and personal life and goals - where farming is important but certainly does not control their lives."

DTS Environmental Integrity & Quality Management Award: Greg and Rachel Roadley, Ashburton

Judges Comments
"Greg and Rachel have a long history of high personal standards in their farm environment. They are achieving quality assets, quality systems, and quality cows producing a superior product. They are very customer focused farmers."

LIVESTOCK IMPROVEMENT Productivity Award: Greg and Rachel Roadley, Ashburton

Judges Comments
"The Roadley's farm systems analysis and monitoring is industry leading. They strive for attention to detail and in the process have taken a strong family business, reshaped it and moved it to a new level."


RUNNER - UP: Matthew Young and Sheena Slater, Cambridge

Judges Comments
"Attitude is everything with this couple and their ability to identify and create opportunity has driven their farming career to progress quickly. The demonstrated effective management and understanding across all areas of the judging criteria. Attention to detail and getting the basics right is a strong part of what makes them successful."

PIONEER Productivity Management Award: Craig and Rebecca Sturgeon, Manaia

Judges Comments
"Craig and Rebecca were driven by a passion for cows and their philosophy is "cows have the right of way". They presented and immaculate environment and a thorough understanding of the importance of quality pasture to the success animal health and production targets. They were carrying out the basics of good production husbandry to an extremely high standard, and adding huge value to their farm owners business."

TELECOM Business Planning Award: Alastair and Louise Holmes, Temuka

Judges comments
"Alastair and Louise demonstrated excellence in understanding and maintaining personal and farm financials. Their analytical skills were outstanding and this ensured effective use of information acquired through a strong financial monitoring process."


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