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Taranaki Dairy Awards Winners Back on National Stage

Taranaki Dairy Awards Winners Back on National Stage

Experience counts and for two of the major winners in the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards they have that in spades.

Both 2014 Taranaki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Charlie and Johanna McCaig, and 2014 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year, Michael Shearer, have won regional dairy industry awards titles previously.

In 2011 the McCaigs placed second in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition, after winning the Taranaki regional title while in 2012 Mr Shearer placed third in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition after winning the West Coast Top of the South regional title.

Organisers developed the awards programme in 2006 to enable people to enter different levels of the awards programme as they progressed in their dairy farming career.

“It’s a pretty exciting result to have not one, but two finalists that have won regional titles in the past. The fact they have progressed in their farming career in a pretty short space of time to be competing on the national stage at a higher level is really impressive,” regional convenor Rebecca van den Brand says.

“It’s also important to note that our winners say they enter the awards first and foremost to learn and to grow and develop their farm businesses.”

The other major winner at the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards was Ben Frost, the region’s 2014 Dairy Trainee of the Year. The awards were announced at a dinner at The Hub, Hawera.

Charlie and Johanna McCaig are 21% sharemilking 500 cows for the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust at Manaia. They won $20,500 in prizes.

The couple, aged 31 and 34 years, are in their fifth season in the industry and believe their experience outside of farming is one of their strengths. “We changed careers to become dairy farmers. We brought knowledge acquired through employment in other sectors with us, and came to farming without preconceptions.”

Their relationship and common goals are other strengths. “We came to farming together and we continue to work together towards our goals. These are to grow our equity over the next 20 years to a point that we can retire from operational activities in our early 50s and to actively engage in industry leadership and governance.”

Second place in the 2014 Taranaki Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year contest went to Patea 50% sharemilkers Jason and Gemma Skittrup, winning $8300 in prizes. Stratford 24% sharemilkers Greg and Amanda Bland were third, winning $5050.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, RD1 and Triplejump, along with industry partner Primary ITO (formerly AgITO).
Michael Shearer has a goal to own his own farm in 10 years. In the short term he is keen to gain equity in a dairy farm. He won $8800 in prizes.

“The benefits of entering the awards include having my name out there in the dairy community and networking with people who have entered the competition also.”

Aged 21 years, he is a managing a 360-cow Hawera farm for Steven and Ann Nicholas. He says the property has good topography and infrastructure. “The farm is all flat which makes for easier management of the pastures and the farm layout means short walks to the dairy shed and having a good size dairy shed allows for quick milkings and more time for other work.”

Hawera farm manager Jayden Harvey was placed second in the Taranaki farm manager contest, winning $2270 in prizes, and Eltham farm manager Jj Atkin was third, winning $2100.

The 2014 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Ben Frost, is progressing to a farm manager’s position in June, on the same 450-cow split calving Hawera farm owned by James Murphy where he is currently 2IC.

Mr Frost, aged 21 years, won $6400 in prizes and thinks the awards is a great way to promote himself. “The awards also provide opportunities to network with other farmers, practice for future job interviews and are a great personal challenge. Success in the competition is a good confidence booster.”

He has been in the industry since 2011 and his goals are to continue progressing. He also intends to begin building his own herd later this year.

“I will reassess my goals often as they may change as I am open to opportunities that will help me to get the end goal faster. I am a young keen farmer always willing to learn new skills and meet new people in the industry.”

Second in the dairy trainee contest was James Holgate, who won $550 in prizes, and Joe Churchman was third, winning $470.

Taranaki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Charlie and Johanna McCaig, will host a field day on April 10, while Farm Manager of the Year, Michael Shearer, will host a field day on the Kaponga farm he manages on April 3. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on


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