Cheviot sheep and beef farmer Ben Ensor has landed the Regional Leadership Award at this year’s Beef + Lamb New Zealand Awards.
The awards, held at the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre last Thursday, recognise the people, technologies and innovations that contribute to New Zealand’s world-leading red meat sector.
The judges said Ensor was a worthy winner after leading North Canterbury’s dryland farmers through a difficult period in North Canterbury farming history.
Faced with a regulation that threatened their viability, North Canterbury’s dryland farmers grouped together under Ensor’s leadership to fight the regulation, which was eventually changed. This proved they were continually working to reduce their environmental footprint.
Out of this adversarial situation, Ensor was instrumental in turning the dryland farming group into the Hurunui Landcare Group.
“Ben is recognised for his integrity, and this combined with his inclusive leadership style has opened doors and built bridges with a diverse range of stakeholders, from regulatory organisations, environmental groups and local iwi,” the judges said.
Beef + Lamb NNZ (BLNZ) chair Kate Acland said she was blown away by the calibre of this year’s finalists.
“Sheep and beef farmers are often quite humble in their nature, but it is essential we put ourselves forward, that we celebrate our success and share our stories with wider New Zealand.”
Acland said it is going to be a tough season, and in tough times it is more important than ever to celebrate the sector’s many achievements.
Nine awards were handed out throughout the evening, in front of a crowd of about 300 people.
The Balance Agri-Nutrients Science and Research Awardwas won by the Low-Methane Sheep Genetics Programme.
This programme has led the world in the development of the world’s first livestock genetic selection tool for methane reduction. Judges said it is world-leading research and globally significant in its application for NZ sheep farming.
Silver Farm Farms/Lynker Net Carbon Zero Mapping Tool took out the Datamars Livestock Technology Award.
The mapping technology and associated processes provide a practical and cost-effective way to create a brand and reward farmers for their on-farm vegetation, the judges said.
It enables farmers to capitalise on the vegetation on their farms while meeting consumer demand for red meat produced with a smaller environmental footprint.
The Gallagher Innovative Farming Awardwas won by theMarlborough-based fence post recycling companyRepost Ltd.
Using waste posts from the viticulture industry, Repost Ltd turns them into low-cost fence post options for sheep and beef farmers. Owned by St Arnaud farmers Dansy and Greg Coppell, Repost Ltd is, said the judges, a fantastic example of farmers finding a solution to an on-farm challenge and turning it into a unique recycling business.
The Silver Fern Farms Market Leader Awardwas presented to the recently formed veal company Pearl Pastures.
Owned by Alan McDermott and Julia Galwey, Pearl Pastures began by identifying the needs of the customer, in their case chefs, and worked backwards to produce a veal product that met their requirements.
The judges said there was no better example of market leadership with Pearl Pastures striving to be an exemplar at every stage of the supply chain while also providing a novel solution to the issue of wastage in the dairy industry.
Darfield-based Amy Hoogenboom took out the AgResearch Emerging Achiever Award.
The award judges described Hoogenboom, who is NZ beef genetics manager for Zoetis, as a great example of a hard-working young professional. They said she has clear goals, a massive passion for the sector and its success and is highly motivated.
The Rabobank People and Development Award was won by theNew Zealand Rural Leadership Trust.
The judges said the trust, which manages the Nuffield Farming Scholarship and the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme alongside other initiatives, offers high-quality, fit-for-purpose leadership programmes for the primary sector.
The FMG Rural Champion Awardwas won by the nationwide farmer mental health and wellbeing initiative Surfing for Farmers.
Surfing for Farmers has grown to reach a large national audience – last season it hosted over 4000 farmers at 28 locations – it is novel, enables connections and has high impact in supporting farmers wellbeing, the judges said.
The Alliance Significant Contribution Awardwas taken out by Canterbury-based Farm Systems Scientist Tom Fraser. For over six decades, Fraser has been translating science into farmer language and has provided farmers with the tools, approaches and wisdom that has helped drive productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes, the judges said.