08 March 2018
The 2018 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners swapped office jobs for dairy farming six years ago and now appreciate the opportunities to grow and be self-employed that the dairy industry offers.
Dan and Gina Duncan were rural valuers and knew the rural lifestyle was one they wanted for their family. “I grew up on a dairy farm, and the importance of common sense and consequences are still able to be learnt by children from a young age,” says Dan. “The freedom for children has changed though with a definite focus on health and safety.”
The couple were named the 2018 Northland Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Forum North Whangarei last night, and won $7000 in prizes. The other major winners were the 2018 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Sam Moscrip, and the 2018 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year, Eden Ritchie.
The Duncans have entered the Awards twice previously, with Dan competing in the Waikato Dairy Trainee category in 2013 to gauge how much he had learnt in his first season full-time farming and the couple entering the same region’s Farm Manager competition in 2015.
“We entered to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our business as we wanted to make sure we fully knew what we had before making a decision to move on,” say the couple. “The competition highlighted the balance we were lacking between our financial and personal goals.”
The Duncans believe their strengths lie in a low-input system with all young stock reared on an adjourning run-off. “This allows us to keep more control of our costs,” explains Gina. “We can monitor the progress of our young stock and it also provides options such as AB for our young yearlings.”
“Another strength is our scale and room for growth in numbers, allowing us to grow our equity,” says Dan. “With scale we get the ability to focus more time on management instead of day-to-day jobs, and it also helps when it comes to buying and services.”
The Duncans are 50:50 Sharemilkers for the Pouto Topu A Trust milking 1020 cows on the 460ha Pouto property. Both Dan and Gina, both aged 32, hold Bachelor of Applied Sciences majoring in Rural Valuation and Management, with Dan holding a double major including Agriculture.
The couple found working on developing farms earlier in their dairy industry career challenging but rewarding. “There was room on the farms for growth from attention to detail and hard work. A large amount of our time was focused towards a common farm goal that we set with the owners,” the Duncans say.
“We’ve achieved our goal of quick progression through the industry, which we set when we changed our career. It was a big decision so we had to focus on the pathway.”
The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, New Zealand Farm Source and Ravensdown, along with industry partner Primary ITO.
Runners-up in the Northland Share Farmer of the Year competition were Peter Giesbers and Josiah Shaw, who won $2,625 in prizes.
The Kaikohe 50:50 Sharemilkers work on the Grazing North Ltd 130ha property, milking 390 cows.
Peter (33) has been in the dairy industry for 16 years, progressing through the industry to the position he and his wife Lana are in now, of equity partnership farm owner, multiple farm 50/50 sharemilker.
Josiah (33) began as a Farm Assistant nine seasons ago, progressing through to where he and his wife Dawn are today, as equity partnership 50:50 sharemilking with the Giesbers.
The men say their partnership works because of good communication between all business partners, consultants and farm owners. “We are good at making decisions and are motivated to reach targets,” they say.
“We are proud we have set up a successful equity partnership and survived the recent low payout,” says Peter. “We have a good business model and we are now in a strong position to capitalise.”
Third place in the 2018 Northland Share Farmer category went to Colin and Isabella Beazley who are 50% Sharemilkers on Neil Jones and Wendy Crow-Jones 179ha Wellsford property, milking 330 cows. They won $1750 in prizes.
The couple hold animal health as a high priority, ensuring the animals are happy and healthy. “We are committed to best practice within the industry,” they say.
“We’re really proud we’ve survived a low pay-out and have continued to grow our business during this time.”
Winner of the 2018 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year competition is 21-year-old Sam Moscrip, who entered the awards to challenge himself and to become more aware of how management decisions on-farm directly affect the economic and environmental sustainability of the property. He won $6000 in prizes.
“I wanted to compare my development as a farmer against some of the top farm managers in the North,” says Sam. “I see the Dairy Industry Awards as a great way to not only celebrate success but showcase the primary sector to those deciding what career to follow.
Sam has been farming full-time since completing a Bachelor of Agriculture Commerce at Lincoln University. “Farming to me is more than a job, it’s my passion and one of my hobbies. I recognised that an education would further my knowledge within the farm, business and industry that supports the primary sector,” he says. “I want to continue to build my knowledge of governance and leadership and would like to become a leader within the primary sector.”
“Working with animals, people and the land to create a tangible product that adds value to the farm and generates revenue for both the local and national economy is hugely rewarding.”
Sam finds the isolation of working alone the majority of the time a challenge, and finding the time to get off the farm and socialise with family and friends is important. “I enjoy playing hockey and travelling and also play the bagpipes!”
Future farming goals include herd ownership by 2023, equity partnership by 2025, and owning his own farm. He is currently Herd Manager on Alan and Jill Moscrip’s 200ha Hikurangi farm, milking 400 cows.
Pakiri Farm manager Fred Hohaia, placed second in the Dairy Manager competition, winning $1,875 in prizes. Fred works on Rick Smith’s 360-cow, 150ha property.
Fred enjoys the lifestyle and challenges farming presents, meaning no season is the same. “I enjoy improving myself through challenges, as they not only help me become a better person, but a better farmer through acquiring new skills.”
Third in the Dairy Manager Competition was herd manager Clement Lafon, who won $1,250 in prizes. Clement (26) works on Ian & Sarah and Ray Colebrook’s Kamo property and believes there is great potential to improve the farm because of the soil, pasture and cows they are breeding.
“The business is solid because of the farm owners. They care about the property and are willing to spend money where it needs to be spent.”
Clement holds a French degree in Mechanical Engineering and is proud of the successes he has achieved in fencing and Young Farmer competitions. “This was my first time competing in the Dairy Awards and it has been a real pleasure. I have been amazed to learn so much in such a short time.”
Women were represented strongly in the 2018 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year competition, achieving a clean sweep of first, second and third places with 22-year-old Eden Ritchie named the winner.
It is the first time in the history of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards that women have won all three places in a competition.
Eden is a Farm Assistant on Jean Jeff’s 550-cow, 380ha Dargaville property and entered the awards to benchmark herself against others within the industry and to continue to progress her skills and confidence. She won $5,680 in prizes.
“I have struggled a bit with confidence around planning the cows’ rotation, but I’m really proud that I can now reverse a trailer with ease!”
Northland Dairy Trainee Runner-up is Sarah Powell who would like to be in a 2IC or Manager position by the end of next season, with farm ownership the main goal.
The 20-year-old placed third in the last year’s Northland Dairy Trainee competition. When not working as a Farm Assistant on a Fonterra 500-cow, 239ha property in Hikurangi, she is showing beef cattle at A & P shows. She won $1,500 in prizes.
Jesse Insley was third. The 19-year-old is a Farm Assistant on Innes Anderson’s 211ha Kaiwaka farm, milking 520 cows. She won $1,250 in prizes.
The Northland Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held on 28 March 2018 at 329 Opuna Road, Pouto where Northland Share Farmers of the Year, Dan and Gina Duncan, sharemilk, beginning at 11.00am. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Sam Moscrip and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Eden Ritchie. 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 – Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award - Colin and Isabella Beazley
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award - Benson and Chevon Horsford
• Honda Farm Safety & Health Award - Daniel and Gina Duncan
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award - Benson and Chevon Horsford
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award - Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award - Daniel and Gina Duncan
• Westpac Business Performance Award - Daniel and Gina Duncan
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• IC Motor Group Most Promising Entrant Award – Fred Hohaia
• Whitelaw Weber Employee Engagement Award – Clement Lafon
• Webb Ross McNab Kilpatrick Feed Management Award – Sam Moscrip
• Northland Regional Council Leadership Award – Sam Moscrip
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award - Sam Moscrip
• PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Sam Moscrip
• Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award – Sam Moscrip
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award – Sam Moscrip
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Carrfields Livestock Most Promising Entrant Award - Cathy Houten
• Bryant Tractors 1983 Ltd Farming Knowledge Award – Sarah Powell
• Pioneer Brand Products NZ Communication & Engagement Award – Jesse Rose Insley
• Trutest Community & Industry Involvement Award – Sarah Powell
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award - Jesse Rose Insley