Parts of the Waikato are starting to recover from the drought, but the availability of feed remains a concern, says DairyNZ’s Sharon Morrell.
Awards general manager Chris Keeping says the finalists are looking to progress and grow their equity and position in the industry, "exciting to see and great to witness".
Share farmer head judge and DairyNZ senior consulting officer Abby Scott says the economic climate has prompted finalists to change some practices to ensure they better manage available resources.
"People were focusing on growing grass and supplements within their farm boundary and making sure they used it. And they were more interested in profit per hectare than benchmarking milk production per cow. We also saw innovative ways of reducing costs," Scott says.
"They were all positive about the industry, their business and their equity growth. Their positivity... was infectious. There's no doubt they're in the industry for the long haul."
Share Farmers of the Year Mark and Jaime Arnold are 50% sharemilking 500 cows for Mike and Sherynn Harold and Stuart and Sandra Cordell at Dannevirke. It is their fifth season on the farm and a great relationship with the farm owners led the owners to partner them as they progressed from lower order to 50% sharemilking.
Jaime says their farm operation is all about people.
"We are surrounded by people who have great influences; our staff make us who we are. We call our farm owners our farm partner and appreciate their support."
The Arnolds took a huge pay cut when they launched their dairy farming career eight years ago.
The former logging crew manager and teacher went on a single herd manager's salary when they stepped onto a dairy farm for the first time.
Thomas Chatfield became the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Nicholas Bailey was announced the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.