In a celebration of the people, innovation, technologies and management systems that make New Zealand’s grass-based red meat industry world-leading, the winners in the inaugural Beef + Lamb NZ Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Napier War Memorial Centre on Thursday night.
BLNZ chair Andrew Morrison reflected on the achievements of the sector over the last couple of years and its resilience in maintaining strong exports in light of covid-19.
“Environmentally, our sheep and beef production systems are amongst the most sustainable in the world, with around 24% of New Zealand’s native vegetation flourishing on our sheep and beef farms, and one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints,” Morrison said.
The Ballance Science and Research Award was the first award to be presented and this was won by Lincoln University’s Dryland Pastures Research Group.
For the past 20 years, the Dryland Pastures Research Group has provided the science that underpins the agronomic guidance they provide to transform sheep and beef farms on hill country throughout NZ.
The Datamars Livestock Technology Award was won by software decision support-tool Farmax.
The award judges remarked that this decision support tool had evolved over 30 years and continued to innovate to drive farm profitability, productivity and sustainability.
The Gallagher Innovative Farming Award was won by the Canterbury-based calf-rearing business Maatua Hou.
Judges commented that Maatua Hou provided an innovative and scalable solution to the vexing problem of bobby calves.
The Silver Fern Farms Market Leader Award was won by Coastal Lamb Ltd. Richard and Suze Redmayne launched the Coastal Spring Lamb brand in 2010 in their quest to better understand their lambs’ end-consumer.
AgResearch Emerging Achiever Award was won by Cambridge-based Estee Browne. Estee is the breeding programme manager for Browne Pastoral Enterprise’s sheep-milking unit.
She oversees selecting the genetics and replacement ewes for the company’s 1400 ewe dairy unit and rears 2400-plus lambs to weaning, after which they are either finished or retained as replacements. The judges noted that Estee had broken stereotypes and was achieving in a male dominated area of the agricultural industry.
The Rabobank People and Development Award was won by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT). Over the past 11 years the charitable trust has empowered almost 5000 people with confidence, purpose, leadership and influence – from the farm to the boardroom.
The judges commented on AWDT’s proven track record of successfully developing people. They said the organisation had identified a gap in the market and developed programmes targeting the female partners in farming businesses. This has helped build confidence and resilience in the whole red meat sector.
The FMG Rural Champion Award was won by Tairāwhiti-based agribusiness professional Sandra Matthews. Sandra was instrumental in setting up Farming Women Tairāwhiti (FWT) which now has a membership of over 850 primary industry women.
Sandra believes the success of FWT was partially due to the region’s isolation, with no other organisation offering farming women the support, connectivity and educational opportunities they were craving.
The Alliance Significant Contribution Award was won by AgResearch scientist David Stevens.
Stevens’ 37-year career has spanned one of the more tumultuous periods in NZ’s agricultural history. He has seen the removal of subsidies and the rapid shift from a focus on stocking rates and wool production to meat and productivity, and has been instrumental in creating the foundation of modern sheep and beef farming systems which had delivered prosperity to many farmers.
The winner of the B+LNZ Regional Leadership Award, which recognised an outstanding individual, organisation or business in the sheep, beef and dairy beef sector, went to the East Coast Rural Support Trust. The Trust was represented by Hawke’s Bay farmers Mark Barham and Jane Tylee and Wairarapa-based former farmer and Anglican priest Steven Thomson.
The winner of this award was identified by the Farmer Council in the Award’s host region.
The judges commented that these three Rural Support Trust members in particular had carried out outstanding work in the region, particularly during and after the drought.
Much of their work was confidential, so often went unrecognised, but the Regional Leadership Award was an acknowledgment of all they do to support rural communities and the people within them.