Monday, 06 May 2013 14:16

Real mix in farm manager finalists

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The 11 finalists competing for the 2013 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year title are split between contract milkers and farm managers – as well as age, experience, and farm size.

Judging begins next week for the finalists comprising four males and seven couples, and involves a two-hour farm visit covering financial planning, human resource and farm management.

The final component of the judging, an interview, will take place in Wellington prior to the winners being announced at the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on May 24.

Winners in the 2013 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year will also be announced and nearly $150,000 in prizes will be given away.

National convenor Chris Keeping says it is the 11th year of the farm manager contest, which had also become a dual between contract milkers and farm managers.

The finalists this year include five contract milkers and six farm managers. A contract milker is self-employed and paid on a specific dollar value per kilogram of milksolids (such as $1/kgMS) to oversee the farm production system. They are responsible for some of the farm expenditure and may also contribute some equipment such as a bike. A farm manager is responsible for the financial and physical performance of the farm, including recruiting and managing any staff.

"One of the great aspects of the dairy industry is that there are a number of ways people can develop their farming skills and knowledge and build their equity to take the next step in their career."

Keeping says most of the finalists are aged under 30 years old and one, Bay of Plenty's representative Chris Mexted, is only in his first full season dairy farming.

The oldest finalist, the West Coast/Top of the South's Blue Benseman, is 53 years old and is also managing the largest herd at 1050 cows. Benseman is one of four finalists who had entered the awards for the first time. It is the second time five had entered and two finalists are third time entrants, including Auckland Hauraki representative Kylie Cox. Cox has entered the dairy trainee contest twice before but is entering the farm manager contest for the first time with husband Michael, an experienced builder.
More information on the finalists can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

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