Friday, 18 March 2016 09:55

Regional winners starting to line up

Written by 
2016 Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year Ben and Belinda Price. 2016 Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year Ben and Belinda Price.

The 2016 New Zealand Dairy Awards is entering its business phase with the announcement of regional winners.

Taranaki was the first to announce Ben and Belinda Price as the 2016 Share Farmer of the Year; they took home $17,300 of prizes.

Sam Howard was named the 2016 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Hughson the 2016 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Regional winners will compete for the national title in Wellington in May.

The Prices say they are ready to open their farm and promote the dairy industry to visitors every day.

"We have numerous open farms with school groups and other visitors, so every day is show day," they say.

"We have a passion for what we do, so we love to show that off and hopefully promote dairy farming as a great industry to be in."

The Prices, both aged 35, 50% sharemilk 680 cows on 235ha for Dave and Adrienne Hopkins at Waitotara.

They have been sharemilking together since 2008, building their herd from 150 cows. They plan to buy a dairy farm within five years and employ a contract milker to run the property while they continue in their current sharemilking position.

"We have strong humble values which align nicely with that of our farm owners. We all care about our business, our industry and the people around us and we have a passion and a drive to do what we do well."

They say they have a great team and support network around them, which challenges them and supports their business growth.

The 2016 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year, Sam Howard (27), has a Master of Applied Economics and was an economist for DairyNZ before entering the dairy industry two years ago. He is the production manager on Alan Mills' Stratford farm milking 312 cows. He won $10,900 in prizes.

"My long term goal is to own a farm that allows me to choose whether to be hands-on farming full-time or pursue other business interests or lifestyle goals. I see 50:50 sharemilking as a strong vehicle for equity growth to allow me to generate the capital required to purchase land or invest."

It was the first time Howard had entered the dairy awards. "I spoke to people who had entered and were knowledgeable and they were all overwhelmingly positive about entering. They mentioned the benefits of learning about your own operation's strengths and weaknesses through your own critical thinking and the judges' feedback, and the opportunities to progress and get to know other people in the industry."

Hughson (19) says he enjoys dairy farming and wants to be good at it.

He has been a racing cyclist, which he enjoyed and worked hard at. "It is the same for farming; I love it with a passion so I want to be good at it."

Hughson is second-in-charge on Steve and Maria Poole's 810-cow Hawera farm.

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