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Coast Dairy Awards Winners Do It Again

Coast Dairy Awards Winners Do It Again

It is the second time the 2013 West Coast/Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Peter and Helen McLaren, have won one of the region’s top farming awards.

In 2008 the couple claimed the region’s Farm Manager of the Year title. Last night they went one better to win $19,000 in cash and prizes. “Entering the awards in 2008 gave us a lot of confidence in knowing that our farm systems are working and it also enabled us to pursue further opportunities and go 50:50 sharemilking,” the McLarens said.

The other major winners at the region’s Dairy Industry Awards dinner at Shantytown, Greymouth, were Blue Benseman, the Farm Manager of the Year, and Sam Riley, the Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Peter and Helen McLaren, aged 51 and 47, are 50% sharemilking 525 cows for Peter and Margaret Brooker at Maruia. They started their dairy farming career with the Brookers in 2000, as assistant managers before progressing to a manager role. They also have another 50% sharemilking position of 550 cows on a nearby farm for Rob and Jane MacBeth.

They say their strengths are teamwork and cost control. “We have set up a low cost farming system that gives us a very good financial return. Being able to control farm working expenses enables us to pursue further opportunities as they arise.”

The couple’s goal is to purchase a farm, milking up to 500 cows within three years, while retaining their two sharemilking positions.

Second place in the sharemilker/equity farmer contest went to Whataroa 50% sharemilkers Chris and Carla Staples, who won $8500. Greymouth equity farm managers Kelvin and Heather McKay were third, winning $4900 in prizes.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner AgITO.

The 2013 West Coast/Top of the South Farm Manager of the Year, Blue Benseman, would like to be a positive role model to farmers.

The 53-year-old farm manager on Landcorp’s 1050-cow Bassets Dairy Unit at Westport won $11,200 in prizes. It was his first time entering the awards, believing they would have a positive influence on his career and relationship with colleagues.

Mr Benseman says Landcorp offers great training and support, as well as opportunities for career advancement. He spent four years in the dairy industry when he left school and returned six years ago. His goals are to progress to operations manager and farm business manager within Landcorp and to also rear some beef cattle on lease land.

“I’d like to be a positive role model for future generations of farmers using my leadership skills.”

Runner-up in the farm manager contest was Moana farm manager Hayden George, who won $4000, and Takaka farm manager Adam Boaz was third, winning $3500.

The 2013 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year, Sam Riley, is assisting on a 780 cow Tapawera farm owned by Steve and Kerry Semmens. The 23-year-old won $4200 in prizes.

“I am really passionate about farming and love the financial side of it. I also love learning new skills.”

Mr Riley began dairy farming as a 16-year-old, but left after a year to take up a building apprenticeship. On completion of the apprenticeship, he travelled overseas for a year before returning to New Zealand and the dairy industry in 2012. He is moving to a contract milking position with 600 cows for the next two years, with plans to double production on the high input system farm.

It was his first time in the awards competition. “I entered for the networking, confidence building, to put me out of my comfort zone and for the training opportunities.” He was also keen to develop his leadership and human resource management skills.

Second in the trainee contest was Maruia assistant Glen Fishburn, who won $2500, and third was Dobson trainee Phil Botting, winning $250 in prizes.

West Coast/Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Peter and Helen McLaren, will host a field day on April 30, while the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, Blue Benseman, will host a field day on April 24. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on

Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:
• Cuffs Accountants and Business Advisors Strategic Planning Award – Peter & Helen McLaren
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Peter & Helen McLaren
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Chris & Carla Staples
• Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Christopher & Siobhan O’Malley
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Christopher & Siobhan O’Malley
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Ant & Suzi O’Malley
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Kelvin & Heather McKay
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Chris & Carla Staples
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Peter & Helen McLaren

Farm Manager Merit Awards:
• TB Free New Zealand Livestock Management Award – Rochelle Roberts
• AgITO Human Resource Management Award – Blue Benseman
• Fonterra Best Practice Award – Adam Boaz
• RD1 Farm Management Award – Hayden George
• Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Paul Awaikera

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Rhys Martelli
• Essential Nutrition Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Glen Fishburn


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