John Wyatt won the 2009 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year category and was named the 2015 Manawatu Farm Manager of the Year.
On Saturday night, he completed the category trifecta by winning the 2021 Taranaki Share Farmer of the Year.
The region’s annual awards dinner was held at the TSB Hub in Hawera with Diego Raul Gomez Salinas named the 2021 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year and Sydney Porter the 2021 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year.
“Entering the Awards has increased my job and networking opportunities and has made me think about why I do, what I do,” says John
John has been farming for 14 years, and has spent the past four years contract milking for Mike Hammond on his 106ha, 315-cow Auroa property. He won $8,550 and three merit awards.
He acknowledges his first season on the farm was challenging with a wet spring followed by a drought, leading to the cows being dried off on the 1st March.
John’s proud of setting the farm record for production on three different farms and says attention to detail and focusing on profit not production are strengths of his business.
“My wife Kristina and I work really well as a team,” he says. “I enjoy the satisfaction of a job well-done and want to set a good example and create a future for my family.”
John identifies the development with technology in agriculture as something that is very exciting within the industry. “It’s already starting to have a big influence on what is possible on-farm”
Future farming goals include 50/50 sharemilking next season, leading to buying land in five years.
“I would like to see the New Zealand dairy industry continue to be perceived in a more positive light by the public and valued as the world leaders in sustainable farming that we are,” says John.
“I also think there are opportunities to increase the appeal of dairy farming as a career through being more creative around rosters and hours worked.”
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 Dairy NZ.
Runner-up in the Taranaki Share Farmer of the Year category were Kelsey and Josh Thompson who won $3,400 in prizes and three merit awards.
The Stratford 50/50 Sharemilkers work on John and Sheree Espin’s 69.7ha property, milking 170 cows.
The second-time entrants said entering has enabled them to create budgets and plans. “We have utilised these over the last few years to help us build a strong business.
Kelsey holds a Bachelor in Agriscience from Massey University and worked in pasture management before moving home to farm with Josh, who previously worked as a diesel mechanic for Fonterra.
“Josh and I work very well together and we both have the same goals,” says Kelsey. “We are a great team and I think this is a huge asset to the business.”
“We started our business with Josh working off-farm which meant we were able to completely live off his wage and reinvest the farm’s income back into the farm.”
“This allowed us to progress quicker and to make significant debt repayments over the last four seasons.”
The Thompsons are proud they have continuously reducing their SCC, and were in the top 2% for the lowest SCC for Fonterra for last season.
Looking ahead to the future, the couple are excited about the new science and technology that is becoming available in the industry.
“We are young farmers and have a lot of years farming ahead of us to keep pushing boundaries and learning about environmental impacts,” says Josh.
The couple’s ultimate goal is farm ownership, and along the way they want to run a sustainable business. “Ultimately we want to protect our environment and animals.”
Third placegetters in the Share Farmer category were Sophie Parker and Matthew Thomas who are 50/50 sharemilkers on Norton and Coral Moller’s 84ha Oakura property, milking 260 cows. They won $3,300 in prizes and one merit award.
Winner of the 2021 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year category was Diego Gomez. He won $5,800 in prizes and three merit awards. Diego placed third in the same category in 2020.
Diego is Farm Manager for the Michael D Burr Trust 142ha property, milking 380 cows at Stratford.
Diego began his career as an agribusiness professional in Argentina, where he was a professor and researcher in an Argentinian University. He came to New Zealand in 2009 to learn about dairy farming and believes New Zealand dairy farms are excellent role models for other countries.
“The dairy industry is very complex where you find yourself involved in different and challenging scenarios year after year,” says Diego.
“The capacity of the industry in New Zealand allows everyone who wants to be part of it to be involved and grow.”
Diego enjoys spending time with this wife and two children and believes if you do what you really love to do, everything is enjoyable.
“Being a farm manager is a huge success for me as it’s hard to fit and feel that you belong when you come from overseas.”
“Being granted a high level of responsibility is a huge privilege and proof that resilience and hard work pays off,” he says.
“I aim to achieve my farm production goals every year.”
Diego plans to continue on his career pathway with future farming goals of sharemilking and farm ownership.
The winner of the 2021 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year category didn’t know she wanted to be a dairy farming until she began helping her older brother. “There was something about being outside and being surrounded by cows which captured my heart.”
Sydney Porter has entered the Awards once previously and says putting herself out there was a personal achievement. “I’ve gained friendships and so much more farm knowledge.”
Sydney is Farm Assistant on Phil and Tanya Nixon’s 110ha, 320-cow farm in Hawera. She won $5,200 in prizes and two merit awards.
Working outside and variety in her days appeals to Sydney who says she loves a challenge. “I love that no day is the same – you can be a milker one day, a vet nurse the next, a mechanic one hour and a fence the next.”
“I’m excited to see dairy farmers and the dairy industry receive the thanks we deserve in the future,” she says. “I wouldn’t want to change anything about the industry itself, more how people perceive it.”
Sydney acknowledges managing depression in a physically demanding position has been a challenge.
“Dairy farming and depression go together like tomato sauce on ice-cream,” she says. “I’m proud to still be here today without giving up, the light at the end of the tunnel really shone through and I’m lucky to have supportive bosses whose priority was making sure I was okay.”
Looking ahead to the future, Sydney wants to be involved in the dairy industry in some capacity. “I’m not 100% on my plans, I just know I want to do as many qualifications and study as possible to keep my options open.”
Farm Assistant Logan Stevenson placed second in the Dairy Trainee category, and won $1,250 in prizes and one merit award. Logan works on Shane Stevenson, Mark Bridges and Graham Mourie’s 195ha Opunake property milking 515 cows.
A former heavy machinery operator in civil engineering, Logan enjoys the results from hard work and dealing with animals at different stages of their lives.
Ngaiana Miller was third placegetter and is Trainee Herd Assistant on Stephen and Deborah Clough’s 430-cow, 157ha Eltham farm. She won $1,250 in prizes and one merit award.
The Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards field day will be held at 10.00am on 15 April 2021 at 939 Auroa Road, Hawera, S/N 41568 where Taranaki Share Farmer of the Year, John Wyatt contract milks. Also presenting at the field day will be the region’s Dairy Manager of the Year, Diego Gomez and the Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Sydney Porter. 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 – Nestor Eligado
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Sophie Parker and Matthew Thomas
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Kelsey and Josh Thompson
• Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award – John Wyatt
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Kelsey and Josh Thompson
• Meridian Farm Environment Award – Kelsey and Josh Thompson
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – John Wyatt
• Westpac Business Performance Award – John Wyatt
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• I.S Dam Lining Ltd Employee Engagement Award – Kate Thompson
• BakerTilly Staples Rodway Leadership Award – Kate Thompson
• Dairy Trust Taranaki Feed Management Award – Diego Raul Gomez Salinas
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Diego Raul Gomez Salinas
• Fonterra Dairy Management Award – Nick Gadsby
• MyMilk Power Play Award – Kate Thomson
• Westpac Personal Planning and Financial Management Award – Diego Raul Gomez Salinas
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• Taranaki Veterinary Centre Farming Knowledge Award – Sydney Porter
• LandPro Limited Community and Industry Involvement Award – Ngaiana Miller
• Bayleys Real Estate Taranaki Communication and Engagement Award – Sydney Porter
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Logan Stevenson