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2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards Winners Announced

The major winners in the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards say good, capable people are the cornerstone of their business.

Ralph and Fleur Tompsett were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards. Other major winners were Stephen Overend, who was named the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Lucy Morgan, the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Tompsetts say they want to continue to grow and develop their business. “It’s a goal of ours to bring great people along with us to share and enjoy the growth opportunities which our dairy industry provides.”

The couple are equity partners and 50% sharemilking 1130 cows for Craig and Susan, Karyn and Grant Fleming on their 297ha Ashburton farm. They won $10,250 in prizes plus one merit award.

Ralph (34) holds PrimaryITO Level 4 Dairy Farming and Fleur (37) holds Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Arts and has completed the Governance Essentials Course through Institute of Directors.

“Dairy farming has provided fantastic opportunities for us to grow,” says Ralph. “I love the technical side of the farm and the variety of skills I can apply to my role.”

“Farming allows us to live rurally with plenty of space and a great community.”

The first-time entrants were encouraged to enter the Awards by one of their rural professionals and saw the process as an opportunity to better understand their business and benchmark against the wider industry.

The couple have learned to wear many different hats and to develop competence in a wide range of subjects. “Beginning our sharemilking journey in a low pay-out season was a challenge however it taught us to focus on what we could influence rather than what we couldn’t.”

The Tompsetts have achieved a low staff turnover they are proud of, with core staff members with them for an average of three years. “This has enabled us to develop a family culture on the farm, which in turn has helped us to drive productivity and herd performance.”

Future farming goals include farm ownership and developing their current skills within the industry. “We both enjoy understanding and using data to drive decision making. This enables us to identify areas of improvement and track progress.”

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian, Ravensdown, and Westpac along with industry partners DairyNZ and Primary ITO.

Runners-up in the Canterbury/North Otago category went to Tania Riddington and Tim Murdoch aged 37 & 36 years, who won $4,250 in prizes.

Tania and Tim are 50/50 sharemilkers for Ken Riddington on his 140ha Culverden property, milking 480 cows.

The couple see their combined qualifications, backgrounds and experiences as a strength for their business. “We are both driven and work well together.”

“We both work in the business and bring different strengths, making for a strong partnership,” they say.

Future farming goals include farm ownership within the next five years. “We love working outdoors and have a love for animals. Farming is in our blood!”

Third place went to Jason and Miranda Armstrong, who entered the Awards to benchmark themselves and improve their business.

“We wanted to be involved in something that is a great part of the dairy industry.”

The couple are 47% herd-owning sharemilkers on Dairy Holdings Ltd 263ha farm at Darfield, where they milk 960 cows. They won $3000 in prizes and one merit award.

Jason and Miranda both share the same passion for the dairy industry and feel their stable and profitable business is one of their biggest strengths.

Future farming goals include farm ownership, with the goals of providing others with the same growth opportunities they have had.

The winner of the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year category enjoys the constant challenges and different skills dairy farming requires.

Stephen Overend won $7,125 in prizes plus three merit awards and is farm manager on Theland Farm Group’s 266ha, 930-cow property at Hororata.

The first-time entrant was encouraged to enter the Awards by previous entrants. “My wife pushed me along as this is something that is very much out of my comfort zone.”

Stephen (36) is currently studying towards a Diploma in Financial Planning Agribusiness Management and holds PrimaryITO Level 3 and 4 in Team Management and Effluent Management.

He entered the dairy industry five and a half years ago and has worked for the past two and a half years as a manager.

Stephen has learnt to deal with the challenge of stress through good nutrition and exercise. He’s proud that he has a low staff turnover rate and is thankful for the strong support from experienced and knowledgeable operations and technology teams.

Hilton farm manager Salem Christian, aged 22 years, was second in the Dairy Manager category, winning $2,250 in prizes and two merit awards. He was the 2018 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Currently working for Brian and Ingrid Bolt on their 240ha property, milking 900 cows, Salem counts winning 2018 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year as one of his biggest successes.

Salem enjoys working outside with cattle and is making the most of the progression opportunities the dairy industry presents.

Hororata farm manager Tessa Goes placed third and won $2,000 in prizes and two merit awards. Tessa works on the Theland Purata Farmgroup 173ha, 590-cow property.

Previously an insurance and mortgage underwriter, Tessa could see the opportunities available within the dairy industry. “I love that you see direct results from the effort you put in, from daily milk production to reproductive performance and farm financial outcome.”

21-year-old Lucy Morgan was named the winner of the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year category.

Lucy is Herd Manager on Phillip and Becky Wilson’s 800-cow, 216ha Oamaru property and won $6,175 in prizes and two merit awards.

The first-time entrant grew up on a 400-cow farm in England where she worked on weekends and in school holidays. “My family have been farming for generations. It’s in my blood.”

“My favourite time is definitely calving; that moment when a calf is born and you see the reward of taking care of the mother. It all pays off to create the next generation, the future.”

Lucy acknowledges her height can be a challenge. “I am constantly having to think outside the box to do some tasks.”

“My biggest success is how much I have learnt and how quickly I have become independent since leaving the UK,” she says.

Future farming goals include progressing through the industry and eventually owning her own 800-cow farm.

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee category was 24-year-old Rangiora 2IC Prabhdeep Singh, who won $1,625 in prizes. Prabhdeep currently works for Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (formerly Landcorp) on their 567ha, 1010-cow farm.

Prabhdeep entered the Awards as he though they were a good opportunity to network with other people in the industry. “I got the opportunity to compete with other trainees, meet new people and broaden my knowledge,” he says. “It has given me the confidence to further my studies and career.”

Born and raised on a small-scale crop and dairy farm in Punjab, North India, Prabhdeep is proud of his progression through the New Zealand dairy industry since beginning in 2016.

“It makes me happy looking at how far I have pushed myself and succeeded in a short span of time,” he says. “It is good to see the results of your hard work.”

Prabhdeep identifies understanding the overall operation of dairy farming in New Zealand and differences to what he knew in New Zealand as the biggest challenge. “It was challenging to adapt to a large-scale farming operation.”

“The technologies and New Zealand systems have been incredible to learn,” he says. “It is good to see the rules and regulations that the dairy industry has in place to make sure there is good use of natural resources.”

Third place in the Dairy Trainee category went to 25-year-old herd manager Cameron Bennison who won $1,375 in prizes. He works for Chad Steetskamp on his 250ha, 850-cow Westerfield property.

The first-time entrant entered the Awards to challenge himself and put to good use what he has learned both on-farm and in his PrimaryITO studies.

Cameron holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Rural Enterprise and Land Management, has gained PrimaryITO Milk Quality Level 2 and is currently studying towards PrimaryITO Animal Husbandry Level 3.

Off-farm he’s an active member and the treasurer of the Mackenzie District Young Farmers’ Club.

Share Farmer Merit Awards:

  • DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Ben and Allie King
  • Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Jason and Miranda Armstrong
  • Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Ben and Allie King
  • Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award – Ben and Allie King
  • LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Tania Riddington and Tim Murdoch
  • Meridian Farm Environment Award – James and Charlotte Emmett
  • Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Tania Riddington and Tim Murdoch
  • Westpac Business Performance Award – Ralph and Fleur Tompsett

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:

  • Vetlife Most Promising Entrant – Teresa Goes
  • Alexanders Chartered Accountants Employee Engagement Award – Stephen Overend
  • MorrisonAgri Leadership Award – Michael Boston
  • FarmRight Feed Management Award – Stephen Overend
  • Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Tessa Goes
  • DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Salem Christian
  • PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Stephen Overend
  • Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Salem Christian

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

  • TH Enterprises Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award – Alfonso Almonacid
  • Rural Tenancy Inspections Farming Knowledge Award – Lucy Morgan
  • Craigmore Community and Industry Involvement Award – Lucy Morgan
  • Dairy Holdings Ltd Communication and Engagement Award – Breigh Sample
  • DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Breigh Sample

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