Saturday, March 2, 2024

Dairy Industry Award winner takes all opportunities

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The 2022 Dairy Industry Share Farmer of the Year winner is still processing the big win but says he is humbled by it.

History was made at this year’s awards after Canterbury/Otago achieved a clean sweep of all three major categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award, with national finalists from that region taking home the silverware.

“It is a humbling experience. I really enjoyed the whole experience of the awards and winning has just been the cherry on the top,” Share Farmer of the Year winner Will Green says.

“The fact that we all come from the same region is a credit to us all in Canterbury. We all put the work in and it was amazing to have that home support.”

Originally from the UK, the 34-year-old is a 34% sharemilker on the 270ha Dairy Holdings Ltd Hinds property, milking 1060 cows. Green holds a Degree in Agriculture from Harper Adams University and enjoys farming, as it gives him the opportunity to work outdoors and with livestock.

“I have been here in New Zealand for eight years, away from friends and family so don’t have a network, but my partner Sally Eames has been a huge support through the whole process. So have the farm owners,” he says.

He says meeting and spending time with other finalists has also helped him build his network of colleagues and friends and he learned a lot from them.

The process of entering right through to the presentation stages, judging and awards evening has been a fantastic way for him to network with others in the industry, as well as being able to benchmark the farm and himself against other finalists.

“We started with doing a really good breakdown of the farm and looked at some areas where we were doing well and in others we identified weaknesses and what we could do to develop and improve on these,” he says.

“Sally has some practical farming experience but wasn’t too involved in the actual business side, so it was a great chance for her to become involved and learn that aspect of the business.”

Green has tasted success in the NZDIA as the 2018 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year and was the runner-up in the national title.

Share Farmer head judge Guy Michaels, from DairyNZ, says Green impressed the judges with his contagious energy, accuracy and his constant business reviewing, looking for opportunities to learn.

Green currently owns 90% of the herd and within the year, the goal to own the other 10%.

“In three years, I hope to be debt-free or be in an equity position. The 5-10 year goal is to move into farm ownership of a 600-plus cow farm, wherever that may be. I really enjoy the Canterbury region but location is not a limiting factor,” he says.

He has hopes to give back to the industry through whatever opportunities may come his way.

“The awards open doors and give you lots of opportunities to go out and meet people and give talks on different things,” he says.

“I would also love to be involved in any projects. I am passionate about agriculture, so I am happy to put my hand up to be involved and help out where I can.”

The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition are Central Plateau farmers Todd and Renee Halliday, and Taranaki couple Murray and Rachel Perks placed third

For the 2022 NZ Dairy Manager of the Year Jaspal Singh, his win means “success”.

Singh joined the dairy industry in 2015 as a farm assistant in Mossburn and is now farm manager on Mark and Carmen Hurst’s 220ha, 800-cow property at Waimate.

“Eight years ago, I came from India as an IT student and I faced a lot of challenges which I have gotten through. So yes, this win means success and is a reward for all my hard work,” Singh says.

He says farming in NZ is vastly different where farms are not as big and not as advanced.

“But I have a keen and positive attitude and a love for the cows. The dairy industry here offers a lot of opportunities and I am keen to progress,” he says.

Looking ahead, he will be stepping up to a variable order sharemilking position on the same farm for the 2023-24 season. He then hopes to move to a 50:50 position then farm ownership.

Runner-up is Robyn Mare from West Coast/Top of the South and Hayden Purvis from Bay of Plenty placed third.

The 2022 Dairy Trainee of the Year was awarded to Peter O’Connor from Canterbury/North Otago, who is described by the judges as a mature, capable person with extremely strong practical skills.

O’Connor grew up on a family farm near Westport and says he never really put much thought into doing anything other than dairying.

“I did, at one stage, think of doing engineering but decided sitting in an office behind a desk for eight hours a day wasn’t my thing,” O’Connor says.

He is currently 2IC for contract milkers Steven and Rosie Ketter on the 242ha, 900-cow Mayfield property on Leighton and Michelle Pye’s farm. He will take on the management role for the Ketters in the coming season.

He says he has learned a lot on the job.

“I came into my job a bit too green for the position, so it was a steep learning curve. Steven was really great and helped me out. I just had to roll up my sleeves and get on with it,” he says.

“I had the technical aspects from my university studies, but my practical skills were a bit lacking. “

O’Connor says he will be looking at some AG ITO papers to complete in the future to further his studies.

“There is always lots to learn on the farm and about farming, which I really enjoy,” he says.

Runner-up is Thomas Lundman from Bay of Plenty and Zoe Bryson placed third.

This article first appeared in the June 2022 issue of Dairy Farmer.

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