Hamilton will host next year’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.
The event, now in its 56th year, is a highlight on the rural calendar and will see seven national finalists battle it out over three days for the prestigious title.
Fourteen FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year teams will also compete for a national title, along with 63 AgriKidsNZ competitors from across the country.
But to make it through to the final they first have to prove their worth. Between February and April, seven Regional Final competitions will be held across the country and only those who top their field will qualify for a spot on the national stage.
New Zealand Young Farmers chief executive Lynda Coppersmith said farmers everywhere are still buzzing after this year’s winner, Emma Poole, made history as the first woman to top the podium.
“I’d love to see Emma’s win give more young people the confidence to stand up and give it a go. Last year around 40% of competitors were female and we’d love to see that figure go even higher in 2024.”
Coppersmith said she’s looking forward to an action-packed event in the “mighty Waikato” on July 11, 12 and 13 next year.
“The Waikato region really is a slice of paradise. It’s heartland, rural New Zealand and it has a long and proud farming history.”
The event is popular with contestants and a fan favourite. Season 55’s Grand Final in Timaru attracted thousands of spectators, giving a substantial boost to the local economy over three days.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not you have a farming bone in your body, you’ll love being part of the action. The contestants that make it through to the Grand Final are the country’s very best young farmers. The competition is fierce, with high-pressure challenges that could focus on any aspect of modern farming across the whole supply chain,” said Coppersmith.
Grand Final convenors and local Young Farmer members Nicole Cooper and Dannielle Imlig said they’re looking forward to showcasing Waikato to the rest of the country.
Usually, a series of one-day district competitions kickstarts the contest, but this year’s format looks a little different with both the district and regional competitions rolled into a single weekend. Day one will resemble the traditional district contest while day two will align more closely with a Regional Final.
“It means we don’t have to organise 14 separate district competitions, which will be a huge weight off our incredible team of volunteers who support us year in, year out. They put so many hours into each competition, so hopefully by streamlining the contest in this way we’ll be able to take off some of the pressure,” Coppersmith said.
The new format was trialled in the Northern and Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regions last year.
Entries for all three levels of the contest open on Wednesday, October 18 on the New Zealand Young Farmers’ website.