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Christchurch to host Young Farmer of the Year regional final

5th March 2018

Christchurch to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final

West Coast dairy farmer Andrew Wiffen will be looking to defend his title at the Tasman Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year next month.

The 50:50 sharemilker from the Grey Valley took out the competitive event last year, securing a spot in the grand final in Feilding where he placed third.

But the keen white baiter is 30-years-old, making this his last chance to take out the prestigious national title before he becomes ineligible to enter again.

“This will be my seventh and last regional final,” said Andrew, who admits there is a lot riding on his performance at the event.

Andrew has a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University and visited Scotland in 2014 as part of a NZ Young Farmers exchange.

He will face off against seven other contestants at the Tasman Regional Final in Christchurch on April 7th.

One is former schoolmate Roscoe Taggart, who was Andrew’s official bag carrier at last year’s grand final.

The 26-year-old runs a 732-hectare family sheep, beef and cropping farm in Oxford.

"Dad always encouraged me to give the contest a go, and eventually I did," said Roscoe.

They’ll go up against partners Vanessa Robinson and Martin Bates, who contract milk 360 cows at Charing Cross.

“It’s possible she might beat me, but I don’t want that to happen,” laughed Martin, who’s a qualified builder.

“I’m stronger in the practical modules than she is, but I’m not as good at the theory modules.”

The 29-year-old spent a season in Canada in 2012, harvesting grain crops and hay.

Vanessa is a farm solutions manager at LIC in Canterbury and has a Bachelor of AgriScience and a Masters of Science from Massey University.

“My strengths are the opposite of Martin’s. He’s more practical than I am,” said Vanessa.

Megan Hands grew up on a dairy farm in the Manawatu and is a member of the Malvern Community Board.

She runs her own farm environmental consultancy business called Landsavvy.

“I help farmers understand and respond to environmental reality,” said the 27-year-old, who has a Bachelor of Environmental Management and Planning from Lincoln University.

“I do everything from farm environmental plans, to resource consents and farm environmental audits.”

Megan travelled to Taiwan as part of a leadership delegation in 2012 and is an AGMARDT governance scholar.

Stewart Watson helped establish Golden Bay Young Farmers in 2016.

He’s now an equity partner in a 550-cow dairy farm which has a 150-hectare support block.

“The contest is an easy way for me to learn more about dry stock farming and crop production in New Zealand,” said Stewart who was born in England.

Simon Ferguson is a Dunsandel-based farm consultant with FarmRight, specialising in the dairy and bull beef sectors.

“The job’s a constant challenge and I enjoy the variety of the role, especially working with farmers to get the most out of their businesses,” said Simon.

Jono Satterthwaite has worked on sprawling cropping farms in Australia and Canada.

The 26-year-old returned home to Culverden in November 2016, where he runs 2,500 breeding ewes, 600 mated hoggets, 150 angus cows and 50 heifers on 1,048 hectares.

This will be his first regional final.

“It should be an interesting challenge,” said Jono who’s close friends with fellow contestants Martin Bates and Vanessa Robinson.

The Tasman Regional Final is being held at Innovation Park in Templeton, Christchurch, on April 7th.

Competitors will face-off in two head-to-head practical challenges, complete a 50-minute exam, an interview and seven agri-skills modules testing their technical and physical ability.

The event will culminate in a fast-paced agri-knowledge quiz hosted by Te Radar during an evening show at Innovation Park Hall.

A prize pool of $21,000 is up for grabs.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the iconic agricultural competition which was first held in 1969.


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