The seven finalists in the National Bank Young Farmer Contest have been working for months to prepare themselves for the competition which starts in Ashburton on Thursday.
Aorangi finalist Nick Webster is hoping to better his own and his father’s places in previous contests. Nick, a partner in the family’s cropping farm in North Otago, was third in the final three years ago and Jock was second in what was then called the Skellerup Young Farmer of the Year in the 1970s.
The Otago Southland finalist Kyle Thorburn was sixth in last year’s final. The other finalists are Grant Charteris (East Coast), James Donaldson (Northern), Steve Knight (Tasman), Fraser McGougan (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) andDavid Skiffington (Taranaki-Manawatu).
Judges will be testing them on a combination of farming knowledge, business, public speaking, practical and personal skills and intelligence – the range of skills and abilities modern farmers need to succeed.
At stake is $82,185 worth of prizes for the winner including a Ford Ranger four-wheel-drive utility, a Honda four-wheel-drive ATV, a selection of Echo equipment, cash from the National Bank, Ravensdown fertiliser and Swanndri clothing.
The total prize package for the final of $160,810 includes a Lincoln University Scholarship and the winner of the Market Innovation Challenge receives an AGARDT scholarship for the FAME programme valued at $28,125.
Buts its not just about what they might win, the finalists have come through tough district and regional contests so getting to the contest is an achievement in itself; and the winner gets not just the prizes but the kudos which goes with being the country’s top Young Farmer.