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2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced

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2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced

11 March 2021

The 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner is excited to be part of the New Zealand dairy industry, producing dairy products with the lowest carbon footprint in the world and is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy. 

Women achieved a clean sweep, winning all three categories in Auckland/Hauraki. Rachael Foy was named the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Thames Civic Centre on Thursday night and won $10,300 in prizes and four merit awards. The other major winners were the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Stephanie Walker, and the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Emma Udell.

Rachael was named the Auckland/Hauraki Dairy farm manager of the year in 2017 and placed third at the National Finals.

“The benefits of entering the Awards are numerous, including networking, benchmarking my business, the prizes, raising my profile and the National finals week,” she says.

Rachael chose farming as her career because of the career development opportunities and ability to grow equity. “Not only do I love the cows and the people in the industry, but it gives the opportunity to run my own business, manager multi-million dollar farms and employ staff.”

Rachael is contract milker for Malcolm & Eileen Lumsden and Roger & Roanne Lumsden on their 300ha Huntly farm, milking 750 cows.

Being a young, single female has provided constant challenges for Rachael when trying to get ahead and believes people are a strength of her business. “I have a great team of staff and supportive farm owners.”

“A grass-based and low-input farm allows sustainability of the system regardless of the milk price and minimises environmental impact.”

Rachael holds a Bachelor of Agriculture from Lincoln University with future farming goals including growing equity through farming and non-farming investments, and land ownership. 

“I’d like to become more involved within the dairy industry and community through educating and showcasing dairy farming in a positive light to school students and the public,” she says.

“I wish I could change the New Zealand public perception of the dairy industry and farmers and help them to understand how important dairying is for New Zealand.”

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, and Westpac along with industry partner DairyNZ. 

Runners-up in the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year category are Ilona Pohlmann and Michael Green who are 23% sharemilkers for Elizabeth and David Green on their 156h Paeroa property, milking 465 cows. They won $6,225 in prizes and three merit awards.

The first-time entrants were encouraged to enter by neighbours who entered last year and their industry consultants. “This year we didn’t have any overseas holidays planned as we used to in the previous years!”

Mike was brought up on his family farm and spent time as a builder and professional sports fishing captain before returning to the dairy industry. Ilona came from a corporate background in Europe and through meeting Mike realised farming offers a good lifestyle and can be very rewarding.

Mike is proud of Ilona and her transition from European city girl to thriving dairy farmer. “She’s extremely hands-on and is more than capable of replacing me in my absence.”

“Her transition hasn’t been without its share of bumps along the way, but it is rewarding to see her succeed in her role.”

The couple say they have had the usual challenges related to farming – weather and staff – with the most significant being converting the farm from 300 to 500 cows with the addition of 40ha purchased.

“There were many teething problems we had to navigate through with the many new systems such as effluent, cowshed and water system. It was basically a whole farm rebuild.”

Ilona and Mike have acquired another sharemilking position which they begin in June this year, alongside their current role. “The next step is to buy into the family farm in two to three years.”

Mike has an interest in governance within the dairy industry and is keen to pursue study at a tertiary level, as well as attending the Fonterra governance course offered to shareholders.

“I’d like to find a way to make the dairy industry more appealing to young Kiwi families to pursue as a career rather than relying so heavily on foreign labour,” says Mike. “I always say the industry has a lot of offer and there is a lot more awareness of the work-life balance.”

The couple are proud of everything they have achieved together particularly their working relationship and say equality within the business is a real strength.

“We run the business together and both work full-time on the farm and can cover for each other if Ilona returns home to Poland to visit family for a month or Mike is up the top of New Zealand fishing for a week,” they say.

“This strengthens our business financially but also means it functions seamlessly in the temporary absence of one of us. It allows us opportunity to pursue personal development and our hobbies as individuals.”

Third placegetters in the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year category are Justine Fox and Stephen Martin, who love seeing the young stock they have reared come into the herd as healthy and productive animals. They won $2,650 in prizes.

Stephen has spent the past 18 years in the dairy industry and is in his fifth season contract milking. He has completed the PrimaryITO Effluent Management course, while Justine holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Agriculture from Massey University and is currently studying towards Agricultural Business diploma.

Stephen and Justine have progressed through the industry and contract milk for Louise Lyons on her 150ha Mangatawhiri property, milking 460 cows.

The couple are proud they own 11 milking cows that are in the autumn herd at their current farm. “These cows allow us to have an interest in the herd. We are allowed to rear any replacements that our cows have, which is building our herd and equity for a future 50/50 sharemilking position.”

A work/life balance is very important to Justine and Stephen. “Without that balance you’re always thinking about work. It’s good to be able to take a break away from work.”

Future farming goals include 50/50 sharemilking and farm ownership. “I wish we could change the stigma surrounding the dairy industry,” says Justine. “As dairy farmers, we all try to do our absolute best for our cows and the environment and some of the criticism that we receive is not deserved.”

Previous Dairy Trainee category winners have come back to take out a clean sweep of the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year category.

Stephanie Walker was named the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the year and says the Awards process has provided her with invaluable networking.

“It has been priceless to be able to surround myself with like-minded individuals. The Awards have been amazing and provided incredible opportunities for my career.”

Stephanie has been farming for five years, and is in her first year managing the 218ha Kauri Moor farm in Huntly, milking 615 cows. She won $6,975 in prizes and two merit awards

With an urban background, Stephanie says she was unaware of the variety of jobs within the rural sector.

“I have always been involved with large animals since taking a liking to horses at a young age. I originally went to university to become a vet but changed after my first year to agriculture science.”

The future of the New Zealand dairy industry looks bright to Stephanie who is pleased that urban schools are becoming more aware of farm life.

“Fonterra operating milk for schools and open gate farm days allows young people like myself to question more about our industry and the opportunities it presents,” she says. “I look forward to seeing younger people enter the industry.”

Stephanie identifies Kauri Moor’s environmental focus as a strength of the business. “Tt gives the next generation the best chance of being able to enjoy the farming lifestyle like I have been fortunate to do.”

“Evolving technology is another strength of our farm. From milk quality to feeding levels, the farm is always looking at ways to improve technology to make better decisions on farm.”

Feeding and maintaining happy healthy cows, her staff and a desire to do better today than yesterday are a few things that drive Stephanie during the harder times on farm.

“I would change the few employers that still run very tough rosters if I could,” says Stephanie. “Mental health is so often compromised in the dairy industry and it is important we all look after our own and provide conditions and rosters that allow staff to perform at their peak.”

Future farming goals include fine-tuning management decisions, saving and building equity to buy into sharemilking within eight years,

Quinn Youngman was named Runner-up of the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager category and is driven to work hard and succeed in the dairy industry.

“I want to build a solid equity base through farming to ensure we have secure stable future.”

Quinn was the 2018 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year and credits the Awards programme for giving him confidence. “The feedback from the judges was invaluable and gave me a clear idea of my strengths and weaknesses and what to improve on going forward in the industry.”

Quinn is farm manager for David Deans on his 320ha, 720-cow Mercer property and believes maximising the farm gate milk price through the A2 and winter milk premium is a strength of the business.

“Staff training is another strength. The farm is spilt calving so staff get the opportunity to do everything twice in a season,” Quinn explains.

“Staff are encouraged to attend PrimaryITO training and are reimbursed on the completion of any training. They are also given the opportunity to attend discussion groups and training workshops run by Franklin Vets or DairyNZ.”

Work/life balance is important to Quinn as a way to recharge and spend time with family and friends.

Future farming goals include contract milking in the 22/23 season and progressing to sharemilking. “I can see NZ increasingly standing out as a pasture based system,” says Quinn. “I would like to be a successful farmer and a future industry leader.”

Rebecca Casidy and Alexander Voysey were third placegetters in the 2021Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager category and were the Auckland/Hauraki 2019 and 2017 Dairy Trainee winners respectively, with Alexander runner-up in 2019 Dairy Manager of the Year category.

The couple say their experiences through the Awards programme have been invaluable. “It gave me validation that I am on the right track and everything that I am doing each day is a step closer to my goal,” says Rebecca. “It definitely opened the door to a huge network of top-notch farmers that have been crucial in my development in my career.”

Alex agrees and says the Awards have fast-tracked his career in the industry. “It’s connected me with incredible farmers and pushed me to look at my goals and where I wanted to be,” he says. “The Awards process showed me my goals are achievable and gave me the confidence to aim high.”

The couple are farm managers for Neville Markwick, Jeffery Markwick, and Kathy & Craig Maxwell on the 195ha, 500-cow Paparimu Valley Farms property at Papakura. They won $1,825 in prizes and two merit awards.

Rebecca and Alex are excited about the opportunities within the future of the dairy industry. “There’s absolutely a sense that the ‘handbook’ has been thrown out around the old school way of thinking, from sharemilking agreements, to the way we farm our land,” they say. “We aren’t limited to one way of thinking which we find really exciting.”

The couple would like to change the public perception of dairy farming. “Things are changing, and to be the feet on the ground, putting in the hard work every day and making huge leaps in things like animal welfare and environmental standards, it is difficult to still see the misconceptions by the general public and our industry not held in high regard.”

The couple’s immediate farming goal is to build equity while planning to be in a situation of either sharemilking (LO), equity partnership or some form of contracting within the next three years.

“We want to own stock, be self-employed and with the benefit of both of us working fulltime, have multiple streams of income to really get ahead in this game.”

The winner of the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year category, Emma Udell, is a first-time entrant who was encouraged to enter the Awards by a friend.

“I relief milked during school to earn pocket money, then realised how much I loved the industry, so I decided to continue on at the same farm post-schooling for one and a half seasons,” explains Emma. “From there I spent some time travelling and exploring other career options, to find myself back full time farming.”

Emma enjoys the challenges of farming, working outdoors and with animals. She is currently farm assistant on Ks King’s 77ha Ngatea property, milking 240 cows. She won $4,750 in prizes and one merit award.

Emma takes pride in knowing that she is reliable and trusted by her employers and has the skills and confidence to run the farm on a day-to-day basis.

She would like to be involved in industry groups which encourage school leavers to give farming a go. “There’s a big focus on staff well-being and a change in culture surrounding progression in the industry with new pathways being developed to allow people to move forward.”

Emma would like to influence change in the stigma surrounding environmental issues, and the general public's perception of the industry.

“My future farming goals are to continue working in the industry, encouraging other people to join and set an example for future generations who are thinking of joining.”

Kaitlyn Lee was named runner-up in the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee category and won $1,500 in prizes and one merit award. She is Farm Assistant on David Dean’s 320ha, 750-cow Mercer property.

“Farming is doing what I love every day,” says Kaitlyn. “I always knew I would work on the land and dreamed of farming since I was little.”

“I did a lot of extra education papers through my school years to help with both knowledge and future employment opportunities.”

Kaitlyn studied agricultural papers through Telford and Te Kura Correspondence schools and is currently studying toward completing her animal husbandry course.

The diversity of farming appeals to Kaitlyn who says there are always new things to learn and new way to adapt. “The jobs are varied and the ability to grow in the industry are vast and readily available.”

Kaitlyn would love to be involved with educating the general public around the workings of dairy farms and animal management.

“I’m proud to be part of the New Zealand dairy industry and I’d love to see more open days on farms all across New Zealand to help end the negative stigma around the industry,” she says.

Kaitlyn is excited to be part of the future of the dairy industry. “With the support of my employer and management staff I want to grow and learn as much as I can to work my way through different farm roles and be part of any opportunities within the industry.”

Joel Mansell was third. The first-time entrant is Farm Assistant on Craig and Cathy Maxwell, 530-cow Papakura farm and won $1,250 in prizes and two merit awards.

Joel is motivated by the positive attitude his team has towards farming and each other. I look forward to working with the new technology within the industry that will help improve productivity and efficiency.”

The Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 31 March 2021 at 10.30am at 85 Balemi Road Huntly SN 71819 & 71820 where Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year, Rachael Foy contract milks. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Stephanie Walker and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Emma Udell. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

Share Farmer Merit Awards:

· DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Ilona Pohlmann and Michael Green
· Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Danielle Hovmand
· Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Rachael Foy
· Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award – Ilona Pohlmann and Michael Green
· LIC Recording & Productivity Award – Rachael Foy
· Meridian Farm Environment Award – Ilona Pohlmann and Michael Green
· Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award - Rachael Foy
· Westpac Business Performance Award – Rachael Foy

Dairy Manager Merit Awards:

· Campbell Tyson Ltd Employee Engagement Award – Quinn Youngman
· Nick Hoogeveen & Associates Leadership Award – Stephanie Walker
· Franklin Vets Feed Management Award – Rebecca Casidy and Alexander Voysey
· Delaval Livestock Management Award – Jimmy Cleaver
· Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Stephanie Walker
· NZDIA Power Play Award – Rebecca Casidy and Alexander Voysey
· Westpac Personal Planning & Financial Management Award – Quinn Youngman

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

· BlackmanSpargo Rural Law Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Joel Mansell
· Agrifeeds Community & Industry Involvement Award – Kaitlyn Lee
· Keeper Life Communication & Engagement Award – Emma Udell
· DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Joel Mansell