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Nominations/entries open for South Island Farmer of the Year

19 May 2014

Nominations & entries open for South Island Farmer of the Year

Nominations and entries are open for the 2014 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year competition, and organisers are hoping for another record year.

“Last year we had entries from throughout the South Island, the quality of which were such that we were obliged to select six finalists instead of the usual four,” says Lincoln University Foundation Chair Ben Todhunter. “This, plus the very successful winner’s field day at Yealands Wine Estate, generated a lot of interest.

Todhunter says that one of the attractions of the competition is that size really doesn’t matter and is not one of the criteria for judging.

“We’re looking for leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, which can be found equally in a small family-owned farm business as they can within a large commercial agricultural entity.

Todhunter says another reason for last year’s record entries was undoubtedly the decision but the trust board to accept nominations. “Traditionally it has been very hard to get farmers to put their own hand up and say ‘I’m a top-notch farmer’ but when they’re nominated by others that seems to take the ‘tall poppy’ factor out of it and they’re more willing to let their nomination go forward.” Todhunter says anyone can make a nomination of a farmer, and all nominees will be contacted by a representative of the trust to talk them through the entry process.

The Foundation is particularly keen to receive nominations or entries from innovative farmers at the beginning of their careers.

“We want to reward those who have just started this journey, as well as show-case people who have already ‘made it,’ “Todhunter says. “Emerging top farmers might not win the overall competition but could well be up for one of the other prizes and, more especially, they will benefit from the analysis and experience that entering provides to enhance their business, so that they might be an overall winner some time in the future.”

Winners of the South Island Farmer of the Year competition receive $20,000 travel grant to allow the winners to go overseas to look at other farming practices, examine new technologies and innovations and enhance their farm business.

In addition, the Foundation offers four special category prizes of $5000 each:

1. The BNZ award for Human Resource Management
Recognising commitment both on-farm to building a happy and productive team, and off-farm, through the strength and depth of relationships with suppliers, customers and the other people who interact with the farm business.

2. The Silver Fern Farms ‘Plate to Pasture’ award
Given to the finalist who shows the best focus on customer needs and service by showing how they plan their farming operations around what will eventually end up on the consumer’s plate.

3. The Lincoln University prize for Technology and Innovation
Best use of innovation, technology and/or new systems resulting in increased productivity.

4. The Farmlands Cooperative Prize for Resource Use Efficiency
Recognising excellence in the efficient and effective utilisation of the natural resources of the farm, and the physical resource inputs needed to generate a high level of production on a sustainable basis, resulting in an excellent long-run return on capital.

“The prizes are noteworthy,” Todhunter says, “and the learning and ideas that stem being a finalist, together with the contacts that entrants make with other top farmers across a range of farming sectors, make this competition an extremely satisfying experience, both in the short term and in the longer term.”

Nominations and/or entries are open now and will close on 1 August 2014. Judging will occur during September/October with the finals at Lincoln University in November. The competition is open to any form of primary production farm business including agriculture, horticulture, viticulture and aquaculture.

ENDS

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