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Ultimate Rural Challenge begins in Lincoln

Ultimate Rural Challenge begins in Lincoln

July 3, 2014

The 46th ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final officially began today at Lincoln University.

Contest Chairman Kyle Goodwin opened the proceedings remarking that that the strength of New Zealand agriculture is inextricably linked to the success of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

"Our competitors, volunteers and Young Farmers members are our future rural leaders. From what I've seen this year, and from looking at the seven contestants before you here today, we are in good hands," said Mr Goodwin.

There were a number of notable speakers welcoming the contestants and spectators including Lincoln University Chancellor Tom Lambie, Selwyn District Council Deputy Mayor Sarah Walters and ANZ South Island Manager Troy Sutherland.

They all wished the contestants good luck and remarked that Lincoln University and Selwyn District are a fitting setting for an event that pursues such excellence for the rural sector.

Mr Sutherland commented on the enormous effort it takes from a number of people to get to the Grand Final. "The sheer range of skills required to compete is hugely impressive. The road to the Grand Final is not easy, and the fact that [the contestants] have made it this far, is an achievement in itself," he said.

The crowds gathered outside the university library in the cool Canterbury evening as the seven Grand Finalists were introduced and took part in the first head-to-head challenge.

Contestants' public speaking and sales skills were put to the test with just three minutes to auction either a bull or heifer to prospective bidders.

During Thursday morning the competitors also completed the technical elements of Grand Final including a market innovation presentation, written exam, panel interview and an HR challenge.

Contest compere Craig Wiggins says he is very impressed with this year's contenders. "There is a broad spectrum in the group, everyone has their own special skill that they can bring to the competition, and I really think it's too close to call," he commented. "The just have to stay focused, and not get rattled. The top two inches will win."

The next two days will be a grueling test of practical skills, strength and mental stamina for the Grand Finalists.

It's an early start Friday morning at 8am with Practical Day events at Lincoln University (cnr Farm and Weedons Roads). Here, the finalists will be tested on all matters of agriculture including the Ravensdown Agri-skills modules and the action packed Silver Fern Farms Agri-sports challenge (2.30pm). Entry to the grounds is a gold coin donation.

On Friday evening contestants will then give their speeches at the ANZ Sponsors and Speeches Dinner held at Wigram Airforce Museum in Christchurch.

The final hurdle comes Saturday night and will consist of the televised quiz show testing agricultural and general knowledge, held at CBS Arena, televised 11:30pm on TV1, replayed at 6:45am and 9.30pm Sunday on Heartland.

Viewers can also tune in LIVE on TVNZ OnDemand from 6.30pm, Saturday 5 July.

The 2014 Grand Finalists are: Reuben Carter (Tasman), Dwayne Cowin (Waikato/Bay of Plenty) David Kidd (Northern), Sully Alsop (East Coast), Brad Lewis (Taranaki/Manawatu), Dean Rabbidge (Otago/Southland) and James Davidson (Aorangi).

Contestants are competing not only for the champion's title but also for a prize pack worth nearly $70,000 in cash, prizes and scholarships from ANZ, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

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