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BOP Dairy Awards Boosts Careers

BOP Dairy Awards Boosts Careers

Entering the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards has helped the region’s 2015 Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Grant and Karley Thomson, secure a new position beginning in June.

The couple were the major winners at the 2015 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards held at the Awakeri Events Centre in Whakatane last night . The other big winners were Jodie Mexted, the Bay of Plenty Farm Manager of the Year, and Jeff White, the region’s Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Thomsons, who won $10,100 in prizes, are currently 50% sharemilking (with a silent partner) 420 cows for Tom and Tony Trafford at Opotiki.

It was the second time they had entered the awards and are sure it has assisted in their progress. “We have developed a lot of new skills from the feedback we received last year to improve our farming business. We also gained a lot more self-confidence and are sure it helped us get a good job.”

The couple are buying their silent partner out of their company and begin a 400-cow 50% position at Kiwitahi, near Morrinsville, in June.

Aged 30 and 27, they have been in the industry since Grant gained a Dairy Certificate and Farm Management Certificate from Telford Rural Polytechnic. “One of our strengths is that we run a low-cost system which helps us to repay debt quickly so that we can make the next move.”

Their long-term goal is farm ownership in 10 years’ time.

Te Puke 50% sharemilkers Jeff and Ryn Going were second, winning $5250 in prizes. Third place went to Whakatane lower order sharemilkers Bevan and Lyndell Jones, who won $3600 in prizes.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, New Zealand Farm Source, Ravensdown, and Triplejump, along with industry partner Primary ITO.

Never in her wildest dreams did 2015 Bay of Plenty Farm Manager of the Year, Jodie Mexted, think she would be a dairy farmer – despite growing up on a dairy farm.

“I didn’t realise what an awesome industry it was until I gave it a go and got involved.”

She placed runner-up in the region’s 2014 trainee competition and has won $5800 in prizes for her win.

Ms Mexted, aged 29, obtained a Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourist Management at Otago University and worked at the James Cook Hotel in Wellington before going on an overseas experience. She returned to work for her parents, Michael and Linda Mexted, on their Whakatane farm.

In three years she has progressed from being a farm assistant on the 530-cow farm to managing it. Her next step is to go contract milking.

She says the farm is well set-up, with good infrastructure and comforts that make it pleasant to work.

“We also seek support from rural professionals, attend field days and undertake courses to help further develop us and the business. This means we are always looking to make improvements and are not stuck in the times.”

Ms Mexted aims to improve her business skills through courses to prepare for sharemilking in the future.

Second in the farm manager contest went to Te Puke contract milkers Luther and Jessica Siemelink, winning $2400 in prizes. Whakatane contract milkers Glen and Donna Sparrow placed third, winning $1900 in prizes.

The 2015 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year, Jeff White, left his own landscaping business in Auckland in 2013 to start afresh in the dairy industry.

It was a risky move, as Mr White – who has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture – had only ever set foot on a dairy farm once during a high school geography trip. However, the 29-year-old has now set himself on the industry’s career fast-track after winning the trainee title and $4550 in prizes.

His goal is to go 50% sharemilking 320 cows in the region.

“One of my strengths is my innovation in that I am always looking to use the newest and best technologies available.”

Mr White said entering the awards had been a good way to meet new people and benchmark skills.

Te Puke assistant manager Andrew Cameron placed second in the trainee competition, winning $1200, and Whakatane 2IC Adam Barkla was third, winning $580 in prizes.

Bay of Plenty Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Grant and Karley Thomson, will host a field day on March 25, while Farm Manager of the Year, Jodie Mexted, will host a field day on the Whakatane farm she manages on March 18. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on

Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:

• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Matt & Diane Brown

• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Grant & Karley Thomson

• Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Cameron & Margaret Bierre

• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Bevan & Lyndell Jones

• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Grant & Karley Thomson

• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Jeff & Ryn Going

• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Cameron & Margaret Bierre

• Triplejump Risk Management Award – Grant & Karley Thomson

• Westpac Business Performance Award – Jeff & Ryn Going

Farm Manager Merit Awards:

• Bell Booth First Time Entrant Award – Jodie Mexted

• Bay Of Plenty Regional Council Environment Award – Jodie Mexted

• Waiotahi Contractors Ltd Leadership Award – Luther & Jessica Siemelink

• Fonterra Best Practice Award – Luther & Jessica Siemelink

• New Zealand Farm Source Farm Management Award – Glen & Donna Sparrow

• Primary ITO Human Resource Management Award – Jodie Mexted

• Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Glen & Donna Sparrow

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

• Pacific Toyota Most Promising Entrant – Hare Nghaheu

• Genetic Technologies Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Andrew Cameron

• Asmuss Brooking Ltd Leadership Award – Jeff White

• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Andrew Cameron


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