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Interesting Demographics in Farm Manager Contest

Interesting Demographics in Farm Manager Contest

The demographic make-up of the 11 finalists contesting the 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition ensure an interesting mix of talent.

“There’s a real lolly scramble in that the finalists represent a bit of everything – we have young versus not so young, males up against females as well as couples and those that are relatively new to the industry up against some old hands,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. “It’s going to be really interesting to see who comes up trumps!”

National judging begins today , with the three judges – a farmer, banker and consulting officer – visiting the 11 finalists on their farms over a 10-day period. The judges spend two hours on each farm and score the finalists on aspects like their financial planning and management, HR practices, farm environment, future aims, and community and industry involvement.

The Farm Manager winner will be announced at the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards national awards dinner in Auckland on May 2. Winners of the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year will also be named and prizes worth about $180,000 will be presented.

Mrs Keeping says the farm manager finalists include two females, five males and four couples. The two females – Karla Frost representing Northland and Jodie Mexted from the Bay of Plenty – have both completed Bachelor degrees although their careers have taken different pathways.

“Jodie had a career in hotel management and spent time overseas before returning to her family farm and realising that her heart lay in dairy farming, whereas Karla went straight to dairying after gaining her ag science degree.”

The finalists’ age and experience also differs widely.

“There’s a 36 year gap between the youngest and oldest finalists in the group. West Coast’s Thomas and Hannah Oats are aged just 22 and 20 years but plan to go sharemilking within two years and have farm ownership in their sights.

“Our Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa finalist Rowan McGilvary is 56 years old and is widely experienced having spent 32 years in the industry in a variety of positions. He’s focused on being a professional farm manager and doing a great job for his owners.

“They are obviously at different stages of their career and have different motivations, but what is common is that they both want to do the best job for their farm owner or employer and themselves.”

Mrs Keeping says the finalists are split between farm managers (six) and contract milkers (five). Farm managers are generally responsible for the physical performance of the farm and may also recruit and manage staff, whereas a contract milker is self-employed and is paid on a specific dollar value per kilogram of milksolids. They are generally responsible for the production system and some farm infrastructure, as well as staffing.

Nine of the finalists have entered the awards before, either the dairy trainee or the farm manager contests.

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.

Visit for more information on the finalists.

The 2015 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists are:

• Northland, Karla Frost, farm manager 250 cows, Dargaville

• Auckland/Hauraki, James Foote, contract milking 425 cows, Miranda

• Waikato, Paul & Kate Manion contract milking 485 cows, Cambridge

• Bay of Plenty, Jodie Mexted, farm manager 530 cows, Whakatane

• Central Plateau, Nathan & Elri Levin, contract milking 650 cows, Tokoroa

• Manawatu, John Wyatt, farm manager 460 cows, Kairanga

• Taranaki, Lance Chadwick, farm manager 350 cows, Toko

• Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa, Rowan McGilvary, farm manager 900 cows, Featherston

• West Coast/Top of the South, Thomas & Hannah Oats, contract milking 350 cows, Reefton

• Canterbury/North Otago, Mark Cudmore, farm manager 586 cows, Cheviot

• Southland/Otago, Nick Templer & Anieka Venekamp, contract milking 650 cows, Balfour.


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