A couple described as an outstanding example of hard work, dedication and leadership have earned one of the country’s top awards for people living and working on the land.
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SUPPLIED Nick and Rosemarie Bertram were marked as high achievers in all areas of dairy farming.

Nick and Rosemarie Bertram, from Wairarapa, were named the 2020 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, at the New Zealand Dairy Awards on Saturday night.

Finalists were unable to gather for the traditional gala event, because of Covid-19 restrictions, so instead for the first time the award announcements were made via online and television broadcasts.

Share Farmer head judge, Jacqui Groves from Westpac, said the Bertrams were honest, traditional and epitomise sharemilker progression planning.

Nick and Rosemarie, 33 and 27 respectively, are 50/50 sharemilkers on Barry and Carol McNeil’s 150ha, 440-cow Woodville property.

Nick won the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and was runner-up in the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmer category in 2019.

To win the national title and just over $52,000 in prizes, Nick and Rosemarie demonstrated strengths in pasture management, leadership, business and communication.

They also won four merit awards: the Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award, the Federated Farmers Leadership Award, the DeLaval Interview Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award.

The judges also noted the Bertrams were well-researched on current affairs. They were able to confidently share their opinions and were humble yet balanced.

The runners-up in the Share Farmer of the Year competition, Waikato sharemilkers Aidan and Sarah Stevenson, impressed the judges by their determination to live their mission statement of “Farming for the Future”.

The Stevensons, both 31, have been 50/50 share milking for Sue Williams on her 100ha, 330-cow Ngarua property since 2013, with Aidan coming to the dairy industry from building in 2011.

They won the DairyNZ Human Resources merit award.

Southland/Otago contract milkers Samuel and Karen Bennett, both 31, placed third in the Share Farmer category, winning almost $20,000 in prizes.

The couple are contract milking 630 cows on Andrew and Jenny Calder’s 223ha farm in Wyndham and also won the Meridian Farm Environment Award.

Dairy Manager of the Year

The 2020 Dairy Manager of the Year stood out as a quiet yet confident person who is very capable and connects with a wide range of people in the community.

Andre Meier, 30, is farm manager on Ao Marama Farms on 250ha Te Puke farm, milking 800 cows.

He won just under $22,000 in prizes and won the DeLaval Livestock Management and Meridian Leadership merit awards.

Dairy Manager Head Judge Mark Shadwick from DairyNZ said Meier stood out as a proactive manager and leader who constantly seeks opportunities to grow and learn and helps others to do the same.

“Andre is an all-rounder who has established himself as a successful dairy manager whose track record speaks for itself,” said Shadwick.

“He is involved in his community as chairman of the Te Puke Young Farmers, through his involvement in the A&P Show Committee, as a Federated Farmers area rep and by hosting Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology students.”

Meier has a focus on animal welfare and cites once-a-day milking is a strength of the business.

The Dairy Manager runner-up is Paul Mercer from Manawatu, who won the LIC Interview and Ravensdown Feed Management merit Awards and $11,410 in prizes.

Mercer is farm manager on Robert Ervine’s 140ha, 370-cow property in Palmerston North and is studying extramurally for a Bachelor of AgriCommerce through Massey University.

Daisy Higgs, 24, from Waikato placed third and won almost $8000 in prizes and the DairyNZ Employee Engagement merit award.

Daisy is farm manager for Gavin and Maree Haddon on their 91ha farm, milking 300 cows in Morrinsville.

NZ Dairy Trainee of the Year

Judges predict the 2020 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year, Grace Gibberd will be a great ambassador and role model for the industry.

“Grace displayed an exceptional overall understanding of general knowledge and was clear, confident and articulate with her answers,” said Dairy Trainee Head Judge Mark Nicholas.

Gibberd, 21, won $9700 in prizes including a Honda XR Farm Motorbike, along with the Federated Farmers Farming Knowledge and DairyNZ Practical Skills merit awards.

Gibberd has a passion for animals, people and her role as farm assistant on the DairyNZ 115ha property at Newstead, milking 360 cows.

The judges say all the Dairy Trainee finalists are passionate about higher education and they are very well-rounded young men and women who possess a great understanding of national and global issues.

The dairy trainee judges made special mention of all the finalists’ videos, which were made under lockdown conditions.

The Dairy Trainee runner-up, Sam Dodd from Taranaki, also won the DeLaval Communication and Engagement merit award together with $5500 in prizes.

The 23-year-old is 2IC on Mike and Viv Joyce’s property, on their 110ha, 370-cow farm in Hawera.

Third placegetter is Tom Quinn, 24, from Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa. He is senior farm assistant on Selwyn and Jenny McLachlan 210ha, 920-cow farm at Masterton.

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award

Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa farmers Nick and Nicky Dawson were named the 2020 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

The award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Fonterra to recognise dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are respected by their fellow farmers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying.

“All the entrants are all excellent examples of responsible dairying,” said judge Gavin Roden, New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trustee.

“We hear about succession being about family, however Nick and Nicky talk about succession for the whole industry and dairy farming in New Zealand.”

That was reflected in all the work they do with school children, including Year 10 career sessions to attract that age group into dairy farming.

They have a genuine commitment to their staff which is reflected in a low turnover and the ongoing positive relationships with staff who then progress further in their career.

The other two finalists were Chris and Shelia Falconer and Michelle and Leighton Pye.

*The LIC Recording and Productivity Award in the Share Farmer category was won Simon and Natasha Wilkes, Taranaki, not Waikato sharemilkers Aidan and Sarah Stevenson, as stated in a previous version of this story.

Visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information on the awards and winners.

Dairy farmers can do more together than individually.

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