Athol New Young farmer of Year

July 10, 2016

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.

athol wins


Beyond the Top End

June 26, 2015

The theme for this year’s PPP’s 10th  conference was Beyond the Top End.

This was chosen because it was held in Darwin in Australia’s top end,  but the conference also aimed to:

 . . . explore just how we extend ourselves – in business and in our personal lives. We’ll take a look at how we push through the boundaries, hurdle over the barriers and go beyond where others have gone before. And we’ll ask (and hopefully answer) the question of ‘what does it take?’.

It did all that and more.

Chatham House rules applied which enabled everyone to speak freely but constrains what I can report. However, I can say it gave us the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers who educated, entertained, informed and inspired us all.

We also visited the world’s newest meat plant and an outback station which gave those of us from other places an insight into the challenges which face those farming in the Northern Territory – crocodiles, dingoes, distance, dust,  drought, floods . . .

We had plenty of opportunity to network and learn from each other too.

An undoubted highlight of the conference was the presentation of the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award.

This honours its namesake, an Australian agri-business leader who died in an accident on his farm aged just 41.

Nominees were expected to demonstrate similar leadership and visionary characteristics to the late Zanda McDonald, including respect, passion, innovation, motivation, dedication, determination, curiosity, a strong work ethic and a desire to improve their industry.

The three finalists were:

* Emma Hegarty who grew up on a merino property in Queensland. She has worked in animal nutrition, and is a Beef Extension Officer with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. She also teaches agriculture at her local school, received a UNE Young Distinguished Alumni Award and was listed as one of the 100 most influential women in Australian Agri-business.

* Athol New who is the farm business manager for Purata at Dunsandel Dairies. He is responsible for 4000 cows on two farms with four sheds. He was a regional finalist for the ANZ Young farmer competition this year.

* Luke Wright who is manager of Orr Lake Elk in Quebec, specialising in genetics for antler production. He was manager of Landcorp Farming’s Stuart Farm, a 3000ha deer, sheep and beef property. He and his partner own a small deer farm near Te Anau.

All finalists gave polished presentations which showed how difficult a job the judges must have had to choose the winner.

It was Emma who won and was presented with a bronze award trophy, $1,000 cash, a place on the 2016 Rabobank Farm Managers’ program and an expenses-paid tailored mentoring package.

Rabobank also gave places on the Farm Managers’ programme to Athol and Luke.

You can listen to Shane McManaway, chief executive of Allflex Australasia, speaking to Jamie Mackay about the conference here and Ben Russell GM of Rabobank NZ also spoke of the conference in his interview with Jamie here .

The conference brought together 137 farmers and agri-business professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

We found we had shared concerns for the importance of animal welfare, food safety, recruitment and retention of staff, encouraging young people to consider agri-business careers, environmental protection and enhancement, bridging the rural-urban divide . . .

We also learned about different challenges Australian farmers face. One station in Queensland is in its third year of drought and has received only 65mls of rain this year. On top of that its plagued by wild dogs which kill stock and kangaroos which eat pasture.

This helped us appreciate the gentler conditions at home, even if it was a little harder to wake up to a frost this morning than it had been to wake up to 30 degrees in Darwin.


Rural round-up

December 20, 2014

More accurate picture of ‘actual’ water use emerging:

A more accurate picture of ‘actual’ water use in Canterbury is emerging as growing numbers of the region’s irrigating farmers provide water monitoring data to Environment Canterbury, says IrrigationNZ.

The regional council’s 2013/14 Water Use Report includes data from more than 50% (50.4%) of all consented surface water and groundwater takes in the region. Last year’s report contained water monitoring data from less than 40% of Canterbury’s takes abstracting water at a rate of 5 litres per second or more.

“That leap alone shows significant progress is being made. Farmers are getting the message that they need to install water metering systems, not just for compliance, but to improve their irrigation efficiency and nutrient management. Now we have more than 50% of Canterbury’s water takes being monitored we’re getting closer to a true picture of ‘actual’ water use based on real-time data that farmers are willingly providing,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. . .

 Helping other women to take up leadership – Sue O’Dowd:

A desire to help other women reach their potential motivated a New Plymouth vet to join a programme to develop her leadership skills.

Andrea Murray has just graduated from the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s (AWDT) escalator programme established in 2010 to boost the leadership and governance of women in agriculture. A total of 53 women have graduated since it was set up.

She undertook the 10-month programme to develop her networks and to improve her governance and leadership. “I’ve achieved that and I’m really pleased,” she said.

She was impressed by the level of support the programme’s 14 participants received.

“We were challenged in a way that made sure they got the best out of us. The programme has clarified for me where I can best contribute to the primary industries in New Zealand.” . . .

New reports show value of growing Māori agribusiness:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has released two reports today showing good progress in developing the potential of Māori agribusiness.

“These reports confirm the importance of partnering with Iwi, Māori asset owners, local communities and industry, and show very promising results,” says Mr Guy.

“A report by Kinnect Group evaluates the Government’s work to build partnerships with Māori asset owners, a core part of MPI’s Māori Agribusiness programme. The aim is to help owners make informed decisions on improving their assets by connecting them with the right skills and knowledge.

“This has involved a range of projects covering different property sizes, land-holding structures and uses. The evaluation found the programme made a “valuable and worthwhile contribution”. . .

Forestry opportunities in Maori Agribusiness:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the release of a report highlighting the economic opportunities for forestry through more productive use of Māori freehold land.

The report ‘Growing the Productive Base of Māori Freehold Land – further evidence and analysis’ was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries and identifies the potential economic gains from improving the performance of Māori freehold land at regional and national levels.

“By utilising underused land and increasing productivity Māori freehold land has the potential to contribute to an increase in GDP of $1.2 billion between now and 2055,” Mrs Goodhew says. . .

NZ dairy and deer through to agri-business award finals:

Two New Zealand farm managers have made it through to the finals of the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award – a trans-Tasman agri-business initiative created by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group.

Twenty nine year old Athol New, Farm Business Manager of Synlait’s Dunsandel Dairies based in Rakaia, and Luke Wright, 32, Farm Manager of Landcorp Farming’s Stuart Farm, Te Anau, Southland, have been invited to the PPP annual conference in Darwin in June 2015 – where the award recipient will be announced.

They will be joined by third finalist, 27 year old Emma Hegarty, Beef Extension Officer at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) in Queensland, Australia. . .

New PGP Investment Advisory Panel members:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced three new members of the Primary Growth Partnership’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

The three new members are primary industry and business specialist Barry Brook, experienced businessman Harry Burkhardt, and entrepreneur Melissa Clark-Reynolds.

“The IAP plays a crucial role in the success of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) that aims to boost the value, productivity and profitability of our primary industries,” says Mr Guy. 

“IAP members are responsible for using their expertise and judgement to advise on decisions about the investment of PGP funds, and to help ensure that PGP investments are supporting the overall aims of economic growth and sustainability. . .

 

LIC announces joint venture with Brazilian distributor:

LIC has purchased the majority interest of its Brazilian genetics distributor, NZ Brasil Genetics Producao Animal Ltda.

The joint venture (JV) includes exclusive supply of the farmer-owned co-operative’s dairy genetics for an initial period of 10 years, through a new entity called LIC NZBrasil.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said the co-op began exporting genetics to Brazil in 1999, but the new JV will seek to deliver a better return to farmer shareholders in New Zealand.

“Brazil is the fifth largest dairy industry in the world, with more than 23 million dairy cows. Huge growth is expected over the next 10 years and this presents a significant opportunity for LIC, and our shareholders. . . .

 

 


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