Monday, 24 August 2015 10:33

Big mix in Farmer of the Year entries

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SIFOTY 2014 winners. SIFOTY 2014 winners.

Entries for the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award span the spectrum of New Zealand’s agriculture industry, says the Lincoln University Foundation.

Entries range from ‘traditional’ sheep and beef farms to a Marlborough marine mussel farm, Canterbury saffron grower, South Canterbury organic dairy, Central Otago gourmet fruits producer, and an organic red meats farm in Southland.

For the first time in the history of the competition, a West Coast farm has also entered.

In total, the Foundation has received 12 entries from throughout the South Island. Foundation chair Ben Todhunter says he is delighted to see strong entries for the third year in a row.

“Early in the life of this competition it was a challenge to get entries. But as the prestige of the competition has grown and word has spread about its value to entrants and the agricultural industry generally, numbers have built up.

“We deliberately aim for quality of entrants rather than quantity, so our criteria for farming excellence set a high bar. Our focus will be to maintain this level of very high standard entries and further enhance the reputation of the competition as one of New Zealand’s premiere farming awards.”

Todhunter says the first stage of evaluation is due to start, with regional judging teams visiting each farm. Finalists will be announced in mid-October, with the finals themselves held at Lincoln University on Wednesday, November 18. All entrants get a free expert evaluation of their farm business as a part of the judging process.

The winner receives a $20,000 study/travel grant to further their farm business knowledge and gets the opportunity to hold a field day at their property in early 2016.

Finalists can also win one of four $5000 special category prizes, including the Silver Fern Farms red meat producer ‘Plate to Pasture’ award for best consumer awareness, the Farmlands award for best resource management, the AGSTAFF award for human resource management and the Lincoln University award for innovation and technology.

“The Lincoln University Foundation was formed to encourage excellence in farm business practice,” Todhunter says. “This annual competition is a great vehicle for that. It rewards farming leadership and innovation, and uses the finals night and winner’s field day, plus on-line presentations, to make that knowledge available to the wider farming community.”

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