The wine industry was never Stuart Dudley’s first career choice. The viticulturist for Villa Maria Wines in Marlborough had his mindset on research or forensics, having completed a degree in Genetics and Biochemistry.
Competitions will include the New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.
All entries are received online and close on November 30.
General manager Chris Keeping says major changes to this year's competitions, including changes to entry criteria, should ensure a more even spread of entries across the three competitions. A total of 539 entries were received in the 2015 awards programme.
"There are a number of factors that make it difficult for us to predict how entries will go this year, such as the changes we have made and low milk returns. In saying that, we remain confident that there will be strong interest from people keen to progress in the dairy industry," says Keeping.
"Entering one of our competitions remains one of the best ways people can raise their profile and reputation, as well as make the connections required to jump up the dairy industry career ladder!"
She says organisers have received overwhelmingly positive feedback to the changes made.
The main changes are:
The Share Farmer of the Year competition (previously Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year) is open to all self-employed farmers largely responsible for the day-to-day running of the farm, such as sharemilkers, contract milkers, leasees and equity farm managers.
The Dairy Manager of the Year (previously Farm Manager of the Year) is open to all salaried farm workers, including farm managers, herd managers, production managers and others.
The criteria in the Dairy Trainee of the Year contest has been changed so that only those aged between 18 to 25 years with up to three years full-time experience on a dairy farm and the equivalent of up to a Level 4 qualification can enter.
Keeping says a benefit from entering the awards is the opportunity it provides to undertake some business and career planning.
"Entering a competition does make you question what you are doing and why. Meeting other entrants, organisers and sponsors can also assist in providing support networks and valuable feedback. It is hard to estimate the value on that support during times of low milk returns, drought or stress."
For more information on the events and to enter, visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.