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Dairy Awards Trainees Begin Tour

Dairy Awards Trainees Begin Tour

The 11 finalists in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition begin a three-day study tour of the Central Plateau and Waikato today, where they will visit award-winning farmers and gain a greater insight into the dairy industry.

“The trainee study tour has quickly gathered a reputation for enabling the trainees to see what is possible to achieve in the industry with the right attitude and aptitude,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“It really focuses them on their own career, what they need to do and who can assist them. The dairy industry has a great co-operative spirit with people willing to share knowledge and assist others to achieve their goals. That’s really what the study tour is all about.”

The winner of the dairy trainee contest will be announced at the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards national awards dinner in Auckland on Saturday night . The winners of the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competitions will also be announced and share more than $180,000 in prizes.

Mrs Keeping says the study tour kicks off in Rotorua today, with the trainees participating in an on-farm practical session that is part of the competition. During the tour they will visit a Landcorp farm, be hosted on the farms of past dairy awards winners, visit LIC’s headquarters and bull farm, and tour a robotic farm near Hamilton.

They will have a health check and also meet and hear from a range of industry representatives on how to achieve goals, including former Fonterra Director Jim van der Poel and Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger – both also past regional Sharemilker of the Year winners.

The 11 finalists include just one female – 23-year-old Grace Stephenson representing the Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa region – and range in age from 21 years to 31 years. They are working on farms with herds ranging from 205 cows to 1400 cows.

“One of the amazing statistics among the group is that eight have changed careers to start over in the dairy industry – that’s a whopping 72%.”

Ms Keeping says the trainees have backgrounds in building, the timber and meat industries, plumbing, landscaping, construction, agriculture engineering and drain laying.

It is the first season in the dairy industry for Waikato representative Brett Steeghs, aged 26 years, while Canterbury/North Otago’s representative James Davidson, also 26 years old, has worked on farms in Ireland, Australia and England after completing University studies.

The study tour ends in Auckland on Thursday night. The final component of the contest’s judging, an interview, takes place on Friday.

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.

Further information on all finalists can be found at

The 2015 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year finalists are:

• Northland, Mike Jensen, 2IC 500 cows, Waipapa

• Auckland/Hauraki, Royce King, 2IC 530 cows, Paeroa

• Waikato, Brett Steeghs, farm assistant 420 cows, Horahora

• Bay of Plenty, Jeff White, 2IC 620 cows, Pongakawa

• Central Plateau, Gerard van der Mark, 2IC 900 cows, Mangakino

• Manawatu, Blake Moore, 2IC 750 cows, Opiki

• Taranaki, Michael McCombs, assistant manager, 220 cows, Patea

• Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa, Grace Stephenson, 2IC 205 cows, Dannevirke

• West Coast/Top of the South, Danny Mitchell, farm assistant 400 cows, Koromiko

• Canterbury/North Otago, James Davidson, farm assistant 1400 cows, Darfield

• Southland/Otago, Jeremy Anderson, 2IC 940 cows, Otautau.


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