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Farm Owner Endorses Competition Benefits

Farm Owner Endorses Competition Benefits

In the last 30 years, dairy farmer Ian Elliott has employed more than 40 sharemilkers on his 250ha farm in the Waikato.

A sharemilker for three years back in the early 1970s, Mr Elliott reckons he knows the breed, and what qualities a good sharemilker will demonstrate pretty well.

An advocate for the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition, Mr Elliott encourages sharemilkers working on his properties to enter the competition to benchmark themselves against their peers, and to meet and learn from successful people.

“Their contact with the judges gives them encouragement and shows them what employers look for. I think the concept of promoting success will always be of value. Sharemilker of the Year not only promotes the individual, it also promotes the industry.

“I’m a great believer in the sharemilking system,” says Mr Elliott who has sharemilkers on all his properties which include a 485ha family partnership farm at Te Puke, and a 125ha leased farm at Tirau. He also has supervisory responsibility for seven charitable trust dairy farms.

While Mr Elliott says success in the Sharemilker of the Year competition might not be enough on its own to convince him to hire a sharemilker, he says it would definitely be a factor to take into account in their favour.

“Success in Sharemilker of the Year, along with a good track record and personality, would likely get the applicant an interview. Then I would be looking for someone who could produce at a high level, who is able to manage costs, is good to work with - who I could trust to care for the farm.”

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Mr Elliott says in the sharemilking industry there is an increasing emphasis on technical skills, accurate record keeping and measuring grass levels - all taken into account by Sharemilker of the Year judges.

“As farms get bigger, these skills will become even more important. Sharemilkers will need the ability to select and manage staff. They’ll need all the experience and knowledge they can gain through field days, study, technical courses and taking part in events such as Sharemilker of the Year.”

Mr Elliott was recently a keynote speaker at a Sharemilker of the Year seminar which attracted more than 130 participants, some traveling three or four hours to attend.

He believes sharemilking is a great career for those with the ability and willingness to apply themselves to do well. Of the 40-plus sharemilkers he has employed over the years, more than half now own their own property.

“It’s a tough game but one with great rewards,” Mr Elliott says.

Entries are accepted for the 2005 New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition until December 20. National Convenor Chris Keeping says a simplified entry form and shortening the length of time that entries are open has galvanised sharemilkers into action.

“We have more entries than we have ever had at this time of year – it’s going to be a great competition with great rewards and benefits for all those taking part,” Ms Keeping says.

The national prize pool of nearly $70,000 and regional prize packages of more than $10,000 mean the material rewards of taking on the Sharemilker of the Year challenge are certainly significant. But maybe even more valuable is the edge successful sharemilkers will have in a tight job market, as Mr Elliott has highlighted.

The 2005 New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year Competition is run in association with Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) and is sponsored by Dairy InSight, ACC, Bank of New Zealand, Blue Wing Honda, Dexcel, Ecolab, Fonterra, Livestock Improvement and Ravensdown.

Entry forms are also available from Federated Farmers PH 0800 327 646, by contacting the regional convenors and sponsor representatives or can be downloaded from

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