Former Fonterra Shareholder Council chairman Duncan Coull has been elected as the new chair for Fertiliser co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients.
Leary is in charge of Tarata Farm, a leased 500ha, 4400 stock unit sheep and beef property west of Raetihi, run with another family property.
“The judging panel that visited Tarata included two farmers – two different farmers in terms of the type of property they farm, where they farm and what they focused on – a rural banker and a regional council land management person. Given their backgrounds it was a well-balanced critique from those four people,” she says.
“It wasn’t just about profitability or productivity, but having a sustainable influence as well. The awards are an opportunity to get a well-rounded insight into what you’re doing and not doing.”
Tarata is the sheep breeding unit for the nearby Leary family’s home farm, Wairiri, run by Leary’s brother Dan. Tarata’s cattle policy is flexible depending on the season and market.
Leary, who trained as a physiotherapist, has been farming since 2014. Their initial lease period for Tarata has been extended to May 2024.
She says the judging panel looked at a wide range of issues such as land use, stock policies, water systems, fencing of waterways, subdivision plans and planting.
“It was a great opportunity for me to discuss geographically challenging areas – ground unstable, broken or prone to flooding. We had robust discussion on the hillside about what we should be concentrating on and where to get the tools and resources to help. It provided additional insight into the land structure and soil types present in problem areas.
“It’s a lease property so the judges stayed realistic about what we could do. Their feedback and comments were specific to a lease arrangement -- specific and valuable.”
Leary says being acknowledged at the dinner was also reassuring.
“It was personally encouraging not just for myself, but for our family business to be acknowledged for the steps we’ve already taken on the farm and to be commended for what we are doing well.
“Wider than that, the awards dinner also showcases other properties and gives you a lot to aspire to. It is positive.”
She believes this is important not only for the farm businesses, but also how the greater population perceive farming.