New Zealand’s top young farmers are preparing to take over Timaru for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.
Held over three days from Thursday, July 6, the prestigious competition – now in its 55th year – will see seven Grand Finalists battle it out for the coveted title of FMG Young Farmer of the Year and $70,000 in prize money.
Twenty-eight FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year competitors will also compete for a national title, along with 63 AgriKidsNZ competitors from across the country.
Grand Final convenor and Pendarves Young Farmers member Ashleigh Bell said she’s looking forward to showcasing “what Aorangi is made of” with carefully curated challenges designed to capture the unique flavour of the region.
“In Timaru, we’re known for our diversity, including dairy, sheep, grain and deer farming. We’re lucky enough to have the Southern Canterbury Plains on our doorstep, the rolling hill country and the high country, so there are a lot of different industries in the mix.”
The practical day on Friday, July 7 at Winchester Showgrounds has a lot to offer spectators, Bell said.
All 98 contestants will go head-to-head in a series of practical challenges as well as several modules involving machinery, fencing, livestock management and more.
“We want contestants to be really challenged at this event. These competitors are incredibly talented, so we don’t want them gliding through it. They’re going to have to give everything they’ve got to prove they’ve got what it takes to be New Zealand’s best,” said Bell.
The AgriKidsNZ and FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Contestants will have their awards ceremony on Friday night, but the fate of the seven FMG Young Farmer of The Year Grand Finalists won’t be decided until after the famous buzzer quiz on Saturday evening.
“A lot is riding on contestants during a Grand Final. They’re consistently thinking about so many different things at once. If they think too far ahead or too far back, they’ll lose focus, so it takes a lot of mental skill to get through the three days.”
Three of the seven FMG Young Farmer of the Year competitors have competed at a Grand Final in previous years. For two of them, Emma Poole and Lisa Kendall, it’s their last shot at the title. Poole’s elder brother, Tim Dangen, was last year’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
NZYF chief executive Lynda Coppersmith said who the winner will be is “anyone’s guess”.
“This event is going to be phenomenal to watch. The talent is out of this world, proof that the future of farming in Aotearoa is bright.”
The FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series would not be possible without its family of sponsors: FMG, Ravensdown, WorkSafe, Environmental Protection Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries, Milwaukee, Honda, Lincoln University, Massey University, PTS Logistics, New Holland and Bushbuck.