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Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards Winner A Sharp Shooter

The winner of the 2024 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards was a sniper in the Brazilian army before coming to New Zealand and discovering dairy farming.

Alan da Veiga was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at Ashburton  in Christchurch on Saturday evening.  

Other major winners were Jaspreet Singh, who was named the 2024 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Monique Radford, the 2024 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Alan was new to farming when he landed in New Zealand ten years ago from Brazil and says he loves has found his passion.

“Since I began working in the dairy industry, I have never ‘worked’ again,” he says. “I love that grass is converted into milk to feed people.”

The first-time entrant is contract milking on Dairy Holdings Ltd 260ha, 1000-cow Leeston property. He won $10,000 in prizes plus six merit awards.

Alan (37) says one of his biggest challenges was to learn to speak, read and write English. “Other than that it’s pretty good and I wouldn’t change anything.”

Future farming goals including sharemilking and farm ownership. “I’d like to look back at my career in farming and be proud of what I achieved.”

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors CowManager, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian, Ravensdown, and Trelleborg, along with industry partners DairyNZ, MediaWorks and Rural Training Solutions NZ.

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Runner-up in the Canterbury/North Otago category is Manjinder Johal who won $2,500 in prizes.

Manjinder is contract milking on Paul Adam’s 156ha Ashburton Forks property, milking 615 cows. 

The first-time entrant began his journey in the New Zealand dairy industry as a farm assistant in 2011 and enjoys the career choice that allows him to work outdoors, constantly learn and adapt, and make a tangible impact on the environment and community.

“My future farming goals revolve around continuous growth and sustainability,” says Manjinder.  “I aim to leverage my experience and knowledge gained from growing up in the industry to further develop my skills and expertise.” 

“Ultimately, I aspire to own my own farm, where I can implement sustainable practices, prioritize animal welfare, and contribute to the community.”

Third place went to Wilma Dickey who is contract milking at Waimate for Rural Land Company Richard Milson, on the 297ha, 950-cow farm.  She won $2,000 and one merit award.

The winner of the 2024 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year category is Jaspreet Singh, who placed third in the same category in 2021.  

Jaspreet won $6,500 in prizes plus two merit awards and is farm manager on Farmright Ltd’s 382ha, 1415-cow property at Ashburton..  

While initially coming to New Zealand to study business management, Jaspreet was encouraged to enter the dairy industry by friends.

"I come from a farming background and I could see the opportunities to progress in the New Zealand industry."

The 32-year-old likes to highlight positive farming practices and sets small, achievable goals for himself during the season.

“Farming has lots of challenges but I’m proud I have progressed to manager of a large-scale farm from beginning with no experience.”

Future farming goals include contract milking or share milking, with farm ownership the ultimate goal. 

Darfield 2IC George Dodson, aged 22 years, was second in the Dairy Manager category, winning $2,125 in prizes and two merit awards.

Currently working on Andrew and Hayley Slater’s 113ha property, milking 435 cows, George is excited about the pathways and the opportunities that are available in the industry by working hard.

George has entered the Awards previously in the dairy trainee category and credits the Awards programme with networking and giving him the ability to benchmark himself.

Future goals include being an industry leader and growing the Canterbury Young Dairy Leaders network, with an ultimate goal of sharemilking.

Hororata farm manager Lauren McConnachie placed third and won $1,875 in prizes and one merit award. Lauren works on TheLand Farm Group (Purata) 627ha, 2,100-cow property.

Monique Radford was named the winner of the 2024 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year category.

Monique won $6,500 in prizes and two merit awards and is a herd manager on Leighton and Michelle Pye’s 241ha, 900-cow Ashburton property.

The first-time entrant saw the Awards as an excellent opportunity to learn something new and grow as a person.

“I’ve heard from previous entrants how awesome the experience is for connection and growth and it became something that I really wanted to be part of,” says Monique. “Entering has also meant I am able to form friendships with other young passionate people in the industry.”

The 22-year-old grew up on a dairy farm in Taranaki and holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Massey University and says the balance of full-time practical experiences as well as having weekly modules with local professionals enticed her into dairy farming.

Dairy farming for Monique is a career that provides a multitude of learning and personal growth opportunities. “A lot of the time it doesn’t feel like work! I love the lifestyle and the technical side.”

Monique looks forward to the further integration of science and technology into the dairy industry and believes it will be exciting to see what new technology and data comes out in the future. 

She sees herself as being very open to new science and technology and potentially being part of testing new theories, whether this be trials on-farm or working for a company.

“I would love to create more awareness around farming and in particular, ensuring the public understand where their food comes from.”

She cites self-confidence as a challenge throughout her career so far, however has utilised her connections in the industry to reiterate her decisions and understandings, and learn new practical skills such as loading the silage wagon and fencing.

“I’ve had to become more patient with myself and grow more confidence to ask questions when needed.”

Beginning her dairy career as a herd manager straight from university and being offered a manager’s role after one full-time season are big successes for Monique, as is being part of the winning 2019 Jersey NZ Youth team for International Dairy Week.

Future farming goals include progressing to manager in the next season and continuing to upskill her skills and confidence, with longer-term goals of contract milking and farm ownership.

Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee category was Harry Finch, who won $1,625 in prizes.

The herd manager works on Will Grayling & Jim van der Poel’s 587ha 2,500-cow farm at Ashburton. 

Harry entered the Awards to raise his profile and do some quality networking as he believes there is so much value in listening to someone else’s professional experience, knowledge and perspective.

“I also really wanted to challenge myself by entering an extremely well-regarded programme that would force me to jump outside of my comfort zone,” he says.  “I’m teaching myself to be comfortable being uncomfortable, as I think settling for what you know now and not continually learning or challenging yourself is one of the most harmful things you can do to your potential.”

“I knew that by entering the Awards I would be putting myself into a very uncomfortable position, which would allow me to grow within the industry, learn, and progress on my own journey to success.”

Harry holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from Massey University and was a participant on the Dairy Management Graduate Programme, which has an aim of training young people straight out of university to be capable of managing within a year.  He is now a member of the committee.

Harry is passionate about people and believes in the immense value that they can have on a farm. 

“It excites me that the dairy industry is focusing and investing more into the growth and development of its people,” he says.  “I believe that the industry’s future goals are limitless if we have highly motivated, respected and well looked after people on the ground, creating our product.”

Dan Griffiths from Lowcliffe was third. He won $1,375 in prizes.

The 22-year-old works as a trainee farm manager on Brian Burrough’s NZ Rural Property Trust on the 213ha  property, milking 750 cows.

The Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 9th April 2024 at 10.45am at 778 Feredays Road

Leeston, 7683 S/N Fonterra 37466 where Canterbury/North Otago Share Farmer of the Year, Alan da Veiga, contract milks. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Jaspreet Singh and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Monique Radford. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at

Share Farmer Merit Awards:

  • DairyNZ – People and Culture Award Alan da Veiga
  • Ecolab Total Farm Hygiene Award Alan da Veiga
  • Federated Farmers Leadership Award Myfanwy Alexander
  • Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award Alan da Veiga
  • LIC – Animal Wellbeing, Recording and Productivity Award Alan da Veiga
  • Meridian Environmental Sustainability Award Wilma Dickey
  • Ravensdown Sustainable Pasture Award Alan da Veiga
  • ASB Business Performance Award Alan da Veiga
  • JEH Grazing & Livestock Ltd Emerging Talent Award Myfanwy Alexander

Dairy Manager Merit 

  • DeLaval Livestock Management Award William Gard
  • Fonterra Dairy Management Award Jaspreet Singh
  • GrainCorp Feeds NZ Environmental Sustainability Award George Dodson
  • FarmRight Pasture & Feed Management Award Lauren McConnachie
  • Dairy Holdings Ltd People & Leadership Award George Dodson
  • CowManager Planning & Financial Management Award Jaspreet Singh
  • Vetlife Emerging Talent Award Kieran Gannon

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

  • DairyNZ Practical Skills Award Monique Radford
  • TH Enterprises Ltd Emerging Talent Award Todd Coull
  • FMG Farming Knowledge Award William Renall
  • Craigmore Communication & Industry Involvement Award Monique Radford

© Scoop Media

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