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All-Rounder Wins Waikato Dairy Awards Title

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11pm, March 6

All-Rounder Wins Waikato Dairy Awards Title

The 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Aaron Price, has it all – he’s a young, fit, professional, married man with a plan. He’s also persistent and great to have in the community.

Mr Price, aged 29 years, took out the major title at last night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, with his win netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Claudelands Events Centre were Paul and Kate Manion, the 2015 Waikato Farm Managers of the Year, and Brett Steeghs, the Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mr Price has entered the sharemilker/equity farmer contest four times and has been the runner-up twice. By winning, he has achieved his short term goal. “My long term goal is to achieve farm ownership by 2021 to provide stability and security to myself and my wife Sarah. I also want to be able to help other young people progress through dairying and enhance the natural environment with a long term vision.”

Holding a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce from Lincoln University, Mr Price is currently 50% sharemilking 250 cows for Clyde Whitechurch at Morrinsville. He is 50% shareholder in two sharemilking companies he has established with business partner John Assen.

“Our partnership has allowed me a lot quicker entry into sharemilking and then it has enabled us to expand the operation sooner than if I was on my own. It also provides support, flexibility, and greater economies of scale for us.”

Mr Price says entering the awards had also helped him achieve his goals. “Since entering I have improved pasture recording and my health and safety practices, I’ve lifted livestock targets, improved business monitoring and system analysis, and I am continuing to make improvements.”

He completed the Tauranga half ironman in January this year and is also a volunteer firefighter for the Tahuna Fire Brigade. “It is a way that I can be of value to our local community assisting in all emergency situations.”

Walton 21% sharemilkers, Chad and Jan Winke, were placed second in the sharemilker/equity farmer contest, winning $10,200 in prizes. Third went to Morrinsville 50% sharemilkers Luke Drent and Ryan Hardwick, winning $7570.

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.

It was third time lucky for 2015 Waikato Farm Managers of the Year, Paul and Kate Manion, who won the title and $10,450 in prizes in their third time entering.

The couple, both aged 29, are contract milking 485 cows for “great farm owners”, Jonathan and Mary Robinson, at Cambridge.

“We have found entering the awards a great way to get feedback on our farming practices, as well as to look at our own business in depth and to network.”

The couple have non-farming backgrounds and obtained a Bachelor of Agricultural Commerce from Lincoln University and Bachelor of Science from Canterbury University. Mrs Manion also obtained a post graduate Diploma in Teaching from Waikato University.

“The dairy industry provides a great lifestyle for family and work-life balance for ourselves, as well as our staff.”

The Manions have two young children and have goals of herd and land ownership.

Runner-up in the farm manager contest went to Okoroire contract milkers Ed Auton and Rebecca Walker, who won $5800 in prizes. Morrinsville contract milker Will Rolton was third, winning $4300.

The 2015 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year, Brett Steeghs, has capped off a successful first season in the dairy industry by winning the title and $7000 in prizes.

Aged 26, Mr Steeghs is assisting on a 420-cow Horahora farm owned by Harry and Yvonne Ruffell.

He previously worked in agricultural engineering and entered the awards to gain exposure in the industry and to push himself. His goals are to progress to sharemilking and farm ownership and he is currently studying PrimaryITO courses to increase his dairying knowledge and skills.

Nineteen-year-old Otorohanga farm assistant Andrew Wards was placed second in the trainee competition, winning $4000 in prizes, and Kawhia 2IC Benji Gillespie was third, winning $2000.

Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Aaron Price, will host a field day on March 31, while Farm Managers of the Year, Paul and Kate Manion, will host a field day on the Cambridge farm they manage on March 24. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on

Sharemilker/Equity Farmer Merit Awards:

• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Aaron Price

• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – David & Lisa Anderson

• Federated Farmers of New Zealand Leadership Award – Aaron Price

• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Aaron Price

• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Chad & Jan Winke

• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Aaron Price

• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Aaron Price

• Triplejump Risk Management Award – Luke Drent & Ryan Hardwick

• Westpac Business Performance Award – Aaron Price

Farm Manager Merit Awards:

• VetEnt Most Promising Farm Manager Award – James Pelham

• Effluent & Irrigation Design (NZ) Ltd Environment Award – Will Rolton

• Bayleys Real Estate Leadership Award – Tim Hyde

• Fonterra Best Practice Award – Tim Hyde

• New Zealand Farm Source Farm Management Award – Paul & Kate Manion

• Primary ITO Human Resource Management Award – Ed Auton & Rebecca Walker

• Westpac Financial Planning and Management Award – Paul & Kate Manion

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

• BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award – Jonathan Bell

• Dairy Production Systems Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Brett Steeghs

• Bell Booth Leadership Award – Andrew Wards

• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Storm Burrows

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