Tuesday, 09 July 2024 09:55

Cream of the crop

Written by  Staff Reporters
Judges were impressed by Southern Pastures’ focus on on-farm efficiencies, improving livestock outcomes, and mitigating environmental impact. Judges were impressed by Southern Pastures’ focus on on-farm efficiencies, improving livestock outcomes, and mitigating environmental impact.

One of New Zealand's largest dairy farmers won the 2024 'Food, Beverage and Fibre Producer' award at the NZ Primary Industries Awards.

Southern Pastures own 20 farms around the country. The company also owns boutique milk company Lewis Road Creamery.

Judges were impressed by their focus on refining on-farm efficiencies, improving livestock outcomes, and mitigating environmental impact.

They now operate 20 farms, with premium products in most supermarkets and a market presence in the US, achieving notable sales growth and international awards. Their innovative practices include introducing 350 tonnes of earthworms and dung beetles to improve farm outcomes and soil health.

The 300ha dairy farm of Jane and Damian Roper at Alton in South Taranaki is living proof that dairy farming and biodiversity can exist side by side.

The Ropers, who have 20 years' environmental leadership in their community, won the Guardianship and Conservation Award.

Their successful farming business funds their passion for the environment, retiring land for native biodiversity habitat, restoring Lake Ohurai, and leadership on community projects to bring back kiwi to the Tarere Conservation Park.

The 'Rural Hero of the Year' is Alastair Macgregor, a retired farmer who demonstrated his practical skills to great effect with the Farmy Army, helping Hawke's Bay landowners slammed by last year's cyclone. Away from his home four or five days at a time and staying in a school camp, he put in well over 200 hours helping restore fences in Tutira and Waipukurau.

Julian Raine, an innovator and entrepreneur in horticulture and dairy, took out the 'Outstanding Contribution' award. His leadership in the primary industry and commitment to giving back, both nationally and in his Nelson community, including involvement in the Waimea Community Dam project, spans three decades.

The primary industries 'Champion' is the late Dr Warren Parker. Warren's outstanding academic career, including 18 years as professor of Agribusiness and Resource Management at Massey University, included involvement at the highest levels of primary sector governance. The former chair of Pāmu, he had a passion for leaving the environment better for future generations, and sharing his wisdom and knowledge as a mentor.

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