01 April 2020
The 2020 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say the strength of their farming business lies in their passion for the dairy industry.
“We absolutely love our community,” say Maegan and Terry Legg. “Our determination to succeed and be brilliant is at the basics of our business.
The couple were named the 2020 Manawatu Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards announced via video link on the region’s Facebook page on Wednesday night. The other major winners were Paul Mercer, the 2020 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year, and David Reesby, the 2020 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year.
The Leggs work together on farm and are a cohesive unit. “We both cover each other perfectly on and off-farm,” says Maegan. “Terry is always interested in completing the budgets and forecasts and I enjoy getting out on-farm and in the shed.”
The public servant and engineer met at a Young Farmer’s Ball when neither of them were farming.
“After our son Conrad was born in 2013, we decided we needed to trade the fast-paced life for more family time,” they explain.
“We both grew up on dairy farms and we loved the rural life so we decided to enter the dairy industry.”
The first-time Awards entrants acknowledge their biggest challenge was their desire to sharemilk as quickly as possible while being late comers to the industry.
“We overcame this by taking on a contract milking role to build farm knowledge and experience and progressed to sharemilking in two seasons, which we are really proud of.”
Maegan (31) and Terry (35) currently 50/50 share-milk 320 cows on a 128ha Shannon property, owned by Spall Farms Ltd. They won $8,225 in prizes and three merit awards.
Future farming goals include debt repayment and equity building with the long-term goal of purchasing some land and becoming lease farmers.
“We love the life we live and want to continue to grow great kids, great cows and great grass.”
The runner-up in the Manawatu Share Farmer of the Year category is no stranger to the Awards programme, having won the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Manager category.
Renae Flett has entered the Awards six times and said the benefits included the feedback received from industry professionals which has helped her grow her business and farming system.
“My biggest successes would have to be winning Dairy Manager in 2016, then progressing to a sole-charge contract milking position,” she says.
“I’ve overcome terrible weather conditions, learnt to run a farm on my own and have still achieved top results and grown a successful business on my own.”
Renae (33) contract milks for Brian and Geoff Hill and their Hill Bros Ltd 70ha, 180-cow Palmerston North property. She won $4,850 in prizes and one merit award.
“My strong work ethic and determination means the business is now in a good position and I am able to keep growing.”
“I’m passionate, I know where I want to go, and I’m doing everything possible to achieve those goals.”
Future farming goals include progression to a 50/50 sharemilking position for the 21/22 season.
Third place in the 2020 Manawatu Share Farmer of the Year category went to Quentin and Stephanie Bruntlett, who won $3,675 in prizes and three merit awards.
The Bruntletts contract milk for John and Janine Bartlett on their 220ha, 600-cow property in Kiwitea.
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 partners DairyNZ and Primary ITO.
The 2020 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year is Paul Mercer who won $6,355 in prizes and three merit awards.
Paul (27) has entered the Awards five times previously and was runner-up in the 2019 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year category. He says that there are numerous benefits to entering including networking, advice on farm and career, self-assessment and the prizes.
Paul is the Farm Manager on Robert Ervine’s 140ha, 370-cow property in Palmerston North and is currently studying extramurally for a Bachelor of AgriCommerce through Massey University.
Pauls believes an awesome staff culture is a strength of the business. “Everyone is equal and enjoys what they do,” he says. “The focus is on fully-fed, happy cows.”
28-year-old Palmerston North Farm Manager Shane True placed second in the Dairy Manager category, winning $3,455 in prizes and two merit awards.
Shane manages Matthew Collis’ 630-cow, 200ha property and entered the Awards to work on weaknesses and gain feedback regarding his industry progression plan.
“I like farming because of the constant challenge to do better and the opportunity to be a business owner.”
“One of our biggest strengths is our staff – we have people who want to be a work and believe in what we are trying to achieve on-farm.”
Third in the Dairy Manager Category was 27-year-old Joshua Millard, who is Farm Manager on Pāmu Farms of New Zealand (formerly Landcorp) 207ha, 650-cow Foxton property. He won $2,245 in prizes.
The 2020 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year is 19-year-old David Reesby, who is 2IC on the TRB Reesby-owned 180ha, 420-cow Foxton farm. He won $5,550 in prizes plus three merit awards.
The first-time entrant says the Awards have given him a personal challenge. “I’m in my second season working on the family dairy farm,” he says.
“I’m taking on more responsibilities as I progress and learn with three generations working on the farm.”
David would like to progress through the industry and become a contract milker with a long-term goal of herd ownership and sharemilking, and an ultimate goal of land ownership.
“I have always wanted to be a farmer and the dairy industry offers great career opportunities and lifestyle.”
Senior Farm Assistant Isabella Archer, aged 20 years, placed second in the Dairy Trainee category and won $2,000 in prizes and one merit award.
Isabella works on John O’Brien’s 360ha, 1150-cow Bulls property and entered the Awards to benchmark herself and to gain more connections within the industry.
“I’ve always loved animals and the outdoors and initially took a job in the dairy industry as a break before going to University,” she says.
“I have discovered a passion for farming I never knew I had and I don’t see university in my future anymore.”
Dominic Semmens was third in the Dairy Trainee category. The 20-year-old is 2IC on Grant Bell’s 500-cow, 500ha Palmerston North farm. He placed second in the same category in 2019.
“I chose farming as my career because I love being outside,” says Dominic. “I’m passionate about animal health and welfare.”
Share Farmer Merit Awards:
• DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Quentin and Stephanie Bruntlett
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – James Dillon
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Maegan and Terry Legg
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Maegan and Terry Legg
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Maegan and Terry Legg
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Quentin and Stephanie Bruntlett
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Quentin and Stephanie Bruntlett
• Westpac Business Performance Award – Renae Flett
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• Naylor Lawrence and Associates Most Promising Entrant Award – Nicholas Reid
• Fitzherbert Rowe Lawyers Employee Engagement Award – Josh Millard
• Totally Vets Ltd Leadership Award – Paul Mercer
• Hopkins Farming Group Feed Management Award – Paul Mercer
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Paul Mercer
• Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Shane True
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Josh Millard
• Westpac Personal Planning and Financial Management Award – Shane True
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Manawatu DIA Most Promising Entrant Award – Josh Wilkinson
• Castlegate James NZ Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Isabella Archer
• Massey University’s School of Agriculture and Environment & the School of Veterinary Sciences Community and Industry Involvement Award – David Reesby
• I.S Dam Lining Ltd Communication and Engagement Award – David Reesby
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – David Reesby