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Dairy woman of the Year finalists breaking the mould

Breaking the mould of public perception about the role of farmers’ wives is highlighted by this year’s four finalists for the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Trish Rankin from Taranaki, Kylie Leonard who farms north of Taupo, Julie Pirie from Ngatea in the Waikato and Southlander Emma Hammond are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award being announced at a gala dinner during the Allflex Dairy Women's Network's conference in Christchurch on Wednesday 1 May.

Dairy Women's Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said women on farm are not just farmers’ wives anymore, and that they all juggle multiple roles, from being a vet and mechanic to a financial planner and strategic thinker.

“There’s no doubt the role women play in dairy farming now completely breaks the old fashioned mould of public perception about what a farmer’s wife is,” Gibb said. “They’re all farming partners, farming in their own right playing a major role in running a million dollar business.”

“They are a CEO, health and safety manager, environmental watchdog, farm labourer and policy writer but at the end of the day tuck the kids into bed at night and send them off to school with a packed lunch.”

The strong message from this year's finalists, Gibbs said, was although each was very passionate about their own farming operation they all had an inner drive to go beyond and make the dairy industry a better place for all and future generations.

“They all want to make their mark in the dairy industry and feel a real need to get out beyond the gate to make a difference and to do their bit to leave the dairy industry better than it was before.”

Rankin is a Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist, sixth generation dairy farmer Leonard has completed postgraduate study in Specic Learning Disabilities for Dyslexia, university graduate Pirie has a passion for encouraging young people into dairy farming and Hammond had a technical, compliance and quality assurance career in the meat industry prior to focusing on dairy farming.

All the women are heavily involved in business and community networks while finding time to work on professional development and spend time with family.

Mike Cronin, Fonterra's Managing Director of Co-operative Affairs, said that supporting the Dairy Woman of the Year award is important to Fonterra because the co-operative wants to keep shining a light on the significant contributions being made by women across New Zealand.

“We also acknowledge the ongoing work of the Dairy Women’s Network to develop, connect and celebrate women in dairy,” Cronin said.

“This year, we see another impressive group of finalists who are driving the dairy industry forward and making a positive difference in their respective communities.”

The 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake an approved professional business development programme.

Former lawyer, leadership coach and Federated Farmers Southland executive member South African Loshni Manikam, who now lives in Southland milking 600 cows with her husband and three children, was named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year last year.

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