A Ngakuru husband and wife team have been announced as major winners in the 2017 Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards.
Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos were announced winners of the region's Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua tonight. The other big winners were Anthony Kiff, who was named the 2017 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Taylor Macdonald, the 2017 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.
The couple, both aged 33, are 50/50 sharemilking 300 cows for Andrew and Dorothy McPherson at Ngakuru and won $20,484 in prizes.
Originally from the Philippines, the couple began farming in New Zealand in 2001, progressing through the industry from farm assistant to their current sharemilking position, which they have held since 2015.
Mr Delos Santos was the joint East Waikato 2007 Dairy Trainee of the Year with Zarsha Osborne, and has entered the awards another four times previously. His wife was a registered nurse in the Philippines and enjoys raising their two children on a farm, with a new baby due in April.
"We support and motivate each other and ensure we are there for one another," say the couple.
"Another of our strengths are the systems we have in place to monitor all our expenses. We try to run a low-cost system.
Their goal is to own their own dairy farm in the next 15 years, which will allow a rural lifestyle for their family.
They entered the awards to improve their business, update their health and safety policy and met like-minded people through networking.
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.
The winner of the 2017 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year competition hoped that entering the competitions would encourage his own personal growth as well as gaining experience and networking.
Mr Kiff won $8620 in prizes and is the farm manager for the Landcorp 385ha, 1180-cow farm at Reporoa.
He believes his strength lies in the financial understanding of sharemilkers and landowners costs coupled with excellent people skills.
"My long term goals include being a leader in the industry and growing the next generation of farmers, buying a herd, and running a safe a profitable business," he said.
Rotorua farm manager Colin Tremain, 29 , was second in the Dairy Manager competition, winning $4070 in prizes. He is currently studying towards a Diploma of Agribusiness Management, and would like to be in a 600-cow sharemilking position by the 2025 season.
Mr Tremain works for Tumunui Lands Trust on its 665ha property, milking 1700 cows, and sees a strength of the business in the opportunities that are created through a willingness to take chances and explore possibilities.
"The business has a core goal of building relationships and improving the farms alongside production goals. By investing in the people and the farm it drives the production by virtue."
Pongakawa farm manager Dylan Hilhorst, 31, placed third and won $3045 in prizes. He works on Peter and Wendy Hilhorst's 74ha farm, milking 280 cows.
"We decided to enter the Awards as an indicator to see how we are going within the industry. The great thing about this competition is that it allows individuals to see where they are prospering, but also where they can improve," Mr Hilhorst said. "Other factors such as the potential to become a leader within our industry also played a part in entering, and of course the prospect of winning fantastic prizes is always a good incentive."
It's second time lucky for the 2017 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year, Mr Macdonald, who says he has noticed a large improvement in his self-confidence since entering the Dairy Trainee competition last year.
"I have also found it to be a great opportunity to broaden my view on industry competitions."
The 20-year-old has been in the industry since 2013 when he stepped straight into full-time employment two days after leaving school. He has worked on three different farms to progress his career and is currently second-in-charge for Phill and Diane Herdman on their 470-cow property at Reporoa. He won $5395 in prizes.
He sees himself as an easy-going dairy farmer who loves his job and the lifestyle that comes with it. He is passionate about all things outdoors, and can be found hunting, fishing, four-wheel driving, motor-cross racing and mountain biking, when time allows.
"I also like to work, fix and modify motorbikes, cars, four-wheel drives and tractors," he said.
Future farming goals include a management position within the next two seasons, gaining experience and knowledge to be ready when a suitable contract milking opportunity arises.
"Over the next few years I would like to start building a fair amount of equity and a substantial backbone to buy into a 50/50 sharemilking position of a small operation," he said. "I'd like to achieve this goal by 2022/23 season."
Runner-up in the Dairy Trainee competition was 21-year-old Mangakino farm assistant Donna McKinley, who won $2495 in prizes. She currently works for Parkhill Farms Ltd milking 820 cows on the 340ha farm. Her future goals include progressing to a second-in-charge position by 2017/18 season, with farm management by 2020.
"My long-term goal is to have land and herd ownership and I have financial plans in place to ensure this happens," Ms McKinley said.
She is a motorsport enthusiast, and in her spare time she is pit crew for Liam Honnor Drift, the youngest drifter in New Zealand, putting her two years as an automotive apprentice to good use. She is also vice-chairperson for the Tihoi Young Farmers club and enjoys riding horses.
Third place in the Dairy Trainee competition went to 20-year-old farm assistant Damon Harris who won $1845 in prizes. He works for the Lockwood Trust Partnership on the 405ha, 1100-cow farm.
The Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on March 29 at 2 154 Mangatete Road RD1 Ngakuru Rotorua where Share Farmers of the Year, Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos, sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be the region's Dairy Manager of the Year, Anthony Kiff, and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Taylor Macdonald. 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 - Carlos & Bernice Delos Santos
• Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award - Carlos & Bernice Delos Santos
• Federated Farmers Leadership Award - Mark & Adelle Pacey
• Honda Farm Safety and Health Award - Reece Wine & Amy Seymour
• LIC Recording and Productivity Award - Mark & Adelle Pacey
• Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award - Mark & Adelle Pacey
• Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award - Carlos & Bernice Delos Santos
• Westpac Business Performance Award - Carlos & Bernice Delos Santos
Dairy Manager Merit Awards:
• BlackmanSpargo Rural & Commercial Law Ltd Most Promising Entrant Award - Colin Tremain
• Strettons Employee Engagement Award - Ryan Orchard
• I.S. Dam Lining Ltd Leadership Award - Anthony Kiff
• Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award - Anthony Kiff
• DeLaval Livestock Management Award - Dylan Hilhorst
• Primary ITO Power Play Award - Cliff Ballinger
• Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award - Anthony Kiff
• Westpac Financial Management & Planning Award - Ryan Orchard
Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:
• B.O.P. Regional Council Most Promising Entrant Award - Scott Johnson
• T H Enterprises Ltd Farming Knowledge Award - Donna McKinley
• Bayleys Real Estate Communication & Engagement Award - Toni Schnuriger
• Rotorua Lakes Council Community & Industry Involvement Award - Daniel Smith
• DairyNZ Practical Skills Award - Damon Harris