Mid Canterbury Farmer Athol New became the 48th FMG Young Farmer of the Year last night.
For a lad from Kamo High in Northland – who didn’t come from the traditional farming background – it’s an overwhelmingly incredible achievement – and Athol was understandably emotional as he accepted the Cloak of Knowledge during the Grand Final Ceremony in Timaru tonight.
“I was shocked. I never expected it…but it’s all down to the team I work with. They are so supportive and encourage and inspire me.”
Athol works within the Senior Leadership Team at Purata Farms supplying independent milk company Synlait Milk and leads a team of over ten staff.
The humble 30-year-old was quick to respect the past and credited his rise through the dairy industry to his old agriculture teacher at Kamo High, who encouraged him to head to Lincoln University and study an agricultural commerce degree.
Athol’s win is significant in a year when the dairy industry has its fair share of challenges.
NZ Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland said Athol represented the often un-acknowledged high achievers of the primary industry and said he was the embodiment of the wide array of skills those in the industry need to have to succeed.
“This contest showcases the extraordinary depth of talent that we have in the agricultural sector and continues to help progress and discover vital leadership for the sector. From Whangarei with no farming background to managing multi-million-dollar complex dairy businesses and now winning the FMG Young Farmer of the Year, Athol shows the exciting opportunities in our industry.”
FMG’s Chief Operations Officer Conrad Wilkshire said “Athol’s win is testament to what can be achieved if you’re prepared see yourself – and invest in yourself as a leader.
“Athol’s strong showing in this contest means the real opportunity actually lies in front of him now. He’s set himself a wonderful platform to become a great ambassador for the dairy industry. I think his story, his raw ability and now tonight’s success is quite inspirational to be honest – a very deserving winner and a huge asset to the industry. I think we should all be quite excited by what this guy will achieve for agriculture in New Zealand”.
For winning the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Athol takes away $80 000 in prizes.