The 2009 Northland Sharemilkers of the Year Greg and Phillippa Foster thought their business would benefit by entering the competition, and it has to the tune of $13,100.

The couple won the cash and prizes as well as the kudos gained when they were announced the winners at the Northland Dairy Industry Awards dinner at the Copthorne Hotel, Paihia, last night.

“We entered for the first time this year as we thought our business would benefit from having a more in-depth look into what we do and from the feedback we would receive through the judging process,” they say.

The couple is 50% sharemilking 650 cows for Gordon and Isabel Greenwood at Wellsford, targeting 210,000kg milksolids this season.

They say a strength of their business is the way they work together as a team. “We’re both passionate about the industry and have different strengths that seem to complement each other.

“We’ve also got a strong work ethic and just get stuck in and get the work done.”

Greg Foster, 36, is an electrician by trade and still enjoys a game of rugby. Their goals are to increase their herd size and eventually own their own farm.

Waiotira 50% sharemilkers Shane and Stacey Speedy placed second in the Northland Sharemilker of the Year, winning $5000 in cash and prizes. They run a 515-cow split calving herd for Waireka Dairy Farm and anticipate production of 150,000kg milksolids this season.

Whangarei 50% sharemilkers Gavin and Jennifer Kay placed third, winning $3500 in cash and prizes. They milk 335 cows for John and Jenny Waterhouse and target production of 115,000kg milksolids this year.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, Honda, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner Agriculture ITO.

The 2009 Northland Farm Managers of the Year winner, Ray and Jenny Wiegersma, and 2009 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year, Charlotte Barr, were also announced at the awards dinner.

All three winners will now compete for the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year titles and a prize pool of more than $100,000 in Wellington on May 16.

The 2009 Northland Farm Managers of the Year Ray and Jenny Wiegersma manage a 260-cow herd for Martyn and Anne Smith at Hikurangi. They won $6000 in cash and prizes.

They too had never entered the competition before, doing so to gain from the experience. The Wiegersma’s say strengths of their business are their enjoyment of dairy farming and working with livestock. They plan to own their own small herd by the end of 2010 and move into sharemilking.

Kaeo farm manager Mark Clements placed second in the 2009 Northland Farm Manager of the Year, winning $4500 in cash and prizes.

Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Charlotte Barr has been farming at Ruakaka for former Northland and New Zealand Sharemilkers of the Year, Bruce and Julie Paton, for more than three years working her way up from farm hand to more senior positions. She is now involved in a 260ha farm milking 800 cows and won a $2400 prize package.

“With this position I like having more control over how the farm works. I also enjoy the record-keeping side of it (most of the time) and take pride in getting the herd records up-to-date.”

Miss Barr is currently studying towards the National Certificate in Agriculture through Agriculture ITO and plans to use the qualification to assist her in achieving her goals of sharemilking or equity ownership.

Wellsford trainee Joshua van der Weyden was highly recommended.

Northland Sharemilkers of the Year Greg and Phillippa Foster will host a field day on Thursday March 19, while Northland Farm Managers of the Year Ray and Jenny Wiegersma will host a field day on the Hikurangi farm they manage on Wednesday March 25. Further details on the winners and field days can be found on www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

Sharemilker Merit Awards:

Blue Wing Honda ATV Safety Award – Greg & Phillippa Foster
DairyNZ First Time Entrant Award – Greg & Phillippa Foster
Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Wayne & Sarah Pepper
Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) Leadership Award – Ian & Kaysha Bellamy
LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Shane & Stacey Speedy
Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Wayne & Sarah Pepper
Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Gavin & Jennifer Kay
Westpac Business Performance Award – Greg & Phillippa Foster

Farm Manager Merit Awards:

Northland Regional Council Sustainable Land Management Award – Ray & Jenny Wiegersma
DairyNZ Human Resource Management Award – Mark Clements
RD1 Farm Management Award – Matthew Jarman
Westpac Financial and Planning Award – Mark Clements

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