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Dairy Farmers Claim Gordon Stephenson Trophy For 2014

Industry-Leading Dairy Farmers Claim Gordon Stephenson Trophy For 2014

Canterbury farmers Mark and Devon Slee have won the National Winner title in the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Their win was announced at the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26. The Gordon Stephenson trophy was presented to the couple by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The Slees were chosen from the ten regional Supreme winners of the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Their business, Melrose Dairy Limited, is based on 1014ha in the Ealing district, south of Ashburton. With a milking platform of 660ha, Melrose Dairy milks over 2600 cows on three dairy units. The operation achieves outstanding production and is an industry leader in profitability.

NZFE acting chair Simon Saunders said the Slees will be great ambassadors for New Zealand agriculture.

“Mark and Devon possess the outstanding communication and leadership skills necessary to spread the sustainability message to both a national and international audience.”

The Slees were chosen from an exemplary group of regional winners.

“All of the Supreme winners demonstrated a huge amount of passion and commitment – not just for their own farming businesses but for New Zealand agriculture as a whole.”

The National Sustainability Showcase celebrates the contribution agriculture makes to the New Zealand economy and highlights farmers’ efforts to find better ways to manage the complex farming systems they work with.

Guests were treated to inspiring visual presentations that showed what each of the regional winners had achieved on the farm.

Speaking at the showcase, Mr Saunders, who chaired the National Judging panel, said the National Winner is chosen following a rigorous judging process. He thanked the judging team which included Jamie Strang, Warwick Catto, Paul Lamont, Charmaine O’Shea and Bruce Wills.

He said last year’s National Winners, Canterbury farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie, have done an excellent job of taking the sustainability message around New Zealand and overseas.

Wrapping up another successful year for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Mr Saunders acknowledged the generous support provided by naming-right sponsor Ballance Agri-Nutrients and the other key sponsors, regional councils and Trust partners. This has helped NZFE play a major role in ensuring farmers are encouraged and rewarded for using good environmental practices.

He also paid tribute to NZFE chairman Alistair Polson, who died earlier in the month.

The well-known Wanganui farmer was a highly respected member of the farming community and a passionate and inspirational advocate for New Zealand agriculture.

Entries for the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open soon.

For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards,visit


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