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Search for NZ's top farm businesses complete

13 April 2006

Dairy Excellence Awards Judges complete search for
New Zealand's top farm businesses

Fonterra Westpac Dairy Excellence Awards judges today visited the last of ten finalists spread across the country who are in the running for one of six international travel scholarships to South America. A total of twenty-seven entries were received.

The Awards recognise, promote and celebrate excellence in eight categories of dairy farming and dairy farm management and are aimed at further encouraging the growth and development of New Zealand's top dairy farmers into industry leaders and ambassadors.

The scholarship programme focuses on advancing the knowledge of Fonterra shareholders in the global business in which they have invested as a co-operative. This year, farm business owners, who could be nominated or put forward themselves, have been interviewed at a national level for the scholarships rather than regional winners going forward to a national final.

Judges interviewed contestants on the issues and challenges facing their farming business, while assessing awareness and knowledge of industry issues and how international dairy markets affect what they do on the farm.

The panel of three judges comprised former Dairy Company and Dairy Board Director Tony Reilly; Stephen Canton, a Dexcel Consulting Officer; and Dave McLean of Westpac Rural Banking.

This year the judges have seen an impressive range of farming systems, and as Tony Reilly points out: "all farming systems are represented from low-cost, all-grass, to high-input, high-output systems."

With an extensive geographical spread of contestants, Stephen Canton says, "we have seen innovative farmers using the strengths and weaknesses of the environments their regions offer them to extract high levels of productivity."

Dave McLean applauds the high calibre of the contestants. "All nominees and entrants have displayed best practice in different areas and it has been a pleasure to witness such business excellence, commitment and passion for the dairy industry. The challenge for the selection team is to reduce the final ten nominees down to just six scholarship winners."

The six successful businesses will be those performing at a top level with consideration for quality management and environmental integrity. The judges also place weight on a farmer's ability to balance personal and business goals.

The judging for the Dairy Excellence Awards Farm Manager Overall Winner will commence on 27 April, with the National Awards Dinner to be held in Rotorua on Friday 19 May. For further information about the dinner or the Awards, Fonterra suppliers should contact their local Field Representative, or visit www.dairyexcellenceawards.co.nz .

ENDS

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