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Farm Environment Trust Assembles Top Panel

Farm Environment Trust Assembles Top Panel for National Winner Judging

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust has welcomed two new judges to the panel responsible for choosing the National Winner of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Comprising six people with a broad range of skills and experience, the National Winner judging panel will select the next holder of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy from the ten regional Supreme winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The winner will be announced at a National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The 2014 National Winner judging panel is chaired by Simon Saunders, deputy chair of the NZFE Trust, and includes Jamie Strang, BFEA National Judging Coordinator, Warwick Catto, Head of Research and Environment, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, and Paul Lamont, Regional Manager, Rabobank. Newcomers Charmaine O’Shea and Bruce Wills have joined the panel this year.

Charmaine and her brother Shayne were Supreme BFEA winners for the Northland region in 2013 and Charmaine is the winner of the 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year title. A chartered accountant specialising in farm accounting, she has more than 20 years’ experience in dairy farming and business management.

Simon Saunders says Charmaine has made a significant contribution to the New Zealand dairy industry. He says her business, people management and environmental skills will be a real asset to the panel.

Bruce Wills is president of Federated Farmers of New Zealand. The Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer is a long-time champion of environmental sustainability and an enthusiastic supporter of the Farm Environment Awards.

“Bruce brings a strong environmental ethos and political sensibility to the judging panel. In his role as president of Federated Farmers he has always been willing to debate the issues surrounding environmental sustainability. Bruce spent 20 years in the banking world before he went farming and he is very conscious of how urban people perceive farmers.

“We’ve been lucky to get Charmaine and Bruce on board for this year’s competition and I think they will find it a tough but rewarding experience.”

Simon says choosing a National Winner is a challenging process for the judges because entrants have already demonstrated great commitment to the values of the awards and made a significant contribution in their region through economic, environmental, community and industry activities.

“All the Supreme winners are doing a fantastic job in terms of their farming skills and their approach to sustainability, so the next step for the judges is to find people that can go out beyond the farm gate and be great ambassadors for New Zealand agriculture.”

The judging process takes place in two stages. Entrants will first be visited by three judges who will assess the sustainability of their farming operation by focusing on the management of the physical farm environment, production and profitability, and relationships and involvement with staff and the community. Entrants will also be asked for their thoughts on the future direction of New Zealand agriculture and how their farming business many contribute to this.

The second stage involves a 30-minute interview in front of the National Judging Panel prior to the National Sustainability Showcase. Entrants will be asked to comment on New Zealand agriculture and its position in the international marketplace. They will also outline their values and strategies relating to their farm, leadership, urban and rural relationships and future threats and opportunities for NZ agriculture.

Last year’s National Winners were Craige and Roz Mackenzie of Canterbury.


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