Saturday, April 13, 2024

Darfield farmer off to Young Farmer finals

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George Dodson takes Tasman trophy as regionals roll on.
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A Darfield Young Farmer is one step closer to winning one of New Zealand’s most prestigious farming awards after being crowned Tasman FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

George Dodson, 22, was announced as the Tasman FMG Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday, March 2, following two days of fierce competition in Christchurch. Now, he gears up to take on six other regional finalists in the ultimate showdown at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final, being held in Hamilton in July.

The event was one of seven regional finals happening across Aotearoa between February and April. Details of what challenges would be thrown at them at the Tasman event were kept under wraps from the 22 determined contestants. 

The win came as a shock to Dodson.

 “To be honest it hasn’t sunk in yet, it was such a shock, I can’t really believe it to be honest!” he said.

 Originally from Southland, Dodson is second in charge on a 430-cow dairy farm between Darfield and Dunsandel. This is his third time competing in the contest, and the first time he’s earned a place at the Grand Final.

 “The weekend was intense, there was definitely some stuff in there that was beneficial to me, and it was great that Saturday was practical based,” Dodson said.

“The head-to-heads were a great challenge, I didn’t expect to be loading AI straws so it was cool to be doing something different.”

Seeing his name at the top of the leaderboard going into Saturday night’s buzzer quiz, Dodson said the pressure came on.

“When I saw that I was leading before the quiz, my family said I went pale white!” he laughed.

“The pressure was on, but luckily I smashed the quick-fire round so could settle into it a bit more after that.”


Tasman FMG Young Farmer of the Year winner George Dodson, centre, is joined by second-placed George Letham, left, and Eddie Millichamp after this year’s awards ceremony.

George Letham, 26, a member of the Waihora Banks Peninsula Young Farmers, made his debut in the competition and clinched second place. Eddie Millichamp, 20, representing Lincoln Young Farmers, secured the last spot on the podium.
Dodson is looking forward to competing at the Grand Final and is excited about testing himself against the best of the best.

“I found the exam and some of the technical aspects of the weekend a bit of a challenge, so that’ll definitely be a focus for me in the lead-up to July,” he said.

Dodson has a busy month ahead, competing for the title of Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year this week, which will help him kick off his preparation for the Grand Final in July.

The next generation was also out competing, with Mikayla Molloy and Tabitha White taking out the Tasman FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year title for 2024. Meanwhile, the Seddon School AgriKidsNZ team made up of Pippa Muir, Isabella Pitts and Emma March were the 2024 Tasman AgriKidsNZ Champions.

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