The 2022 FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series Grand Final takes place from July 7 to 9 in Whangārei, with seven regional finalists competing for the title. Read on to get to know Taranaki Manawatū Young Farmer of the Year David Reesby a little better.
Three years ago, if anyone had asked David Reesby where he thought he'd be today, he probably would have imagined harvesting somewhere in Australia or Canada and enjoying an overseas experience.
Fast forward to June 2022 and the Taranaki/Manawatū FMG Young Farmer of the Year instead finds himself using the global pandemic to his advantage, hunting opportunities in the workforce and taking aim.
He rarely misses either, as this sharpshooter once represented New Zealand in small-bore rifle shooting.
The 21-year-old already has a Dairy Industry Award on his honours board, named 2020 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year.
Reesby got into dairy farming early.
"The day I finished high school, the next morning was my first milking.
"We were short of a worker at the time and I had been working a fair bit after school, just helping out.
"I knew that when school finished, I'd be coming to work and I haven't regretted it."
He's still based on the home farm in Glen Orua, milking 420 cows across 180 hectares and estimates it's running somewhere between a system two and three.
While working, Reesby's also on his way to completing Primary ITO Level 4 dairy papers.
The farm runs all young stock as heifer replacements and takes a small amount of Hereford/dairy cross beef calves through on a separate 80-hectare block, which also grows supplement for both farms.
Parents Sandra and Gareth Reesby and his late grandfather Don expanded three dairy operations as David and his two sisters grew up.
They own another 200-cow farm just up the road which is run by contract milkers and farmed alongside the support block.
Despite being only 10 kilometres from the beach, Reesby reckoned it had "some pretty good dirt".
He was keen on contract milking and working his way through the dairy industry to share milking and farm ownership.
"I'd love to have my own herd one day."
Reesby had an eye on the future and always tried to stay one step ahead of the ever-changing agriculture industry.
"You've got to keep moving with it, otherwise you'll become extinct like the dinosaurs and be left behind."
He reckoned New Zealand's pasture-based systems and the ability to graze stock outside every day of the year was crucial to the industry's success on the world stage.
"The grass we grow is pretty amazing and we can efficiently convert it to milk, meat and fibre and we do it the best in the world.
"We produce a lot of food and feed the world, all while looking after what we've got."
Reesby wanted to see employers in the ag sector value young staff a bit more.
"You've got to keep investing in the right areas, investing in workers and getting them trained up. Young people are a huge investment."
He was keen to use his platform as an FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalist to encourage more young people into the industry.
"There's really a job for everyone under the primary industries umbrella, it's the backbone of our country."
Expecting the Grand Final to be the hardest challenge he will have had to conquer, Reesby aimed to "grab the opportunity with both hands and run with it".
Reesby is no contest "newbie" despite being just 21 years old.
Competing had long been a dream of his after he was introduced to the contest at just 8 years old, when he watched his neighbour Chris Will compete in the 2009 FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final on TV.
Reesby competed in the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final in Invercargill in 2018, coming third nationally alongside one of his friends.
Despite his previous success, qualifying for the Grand Final at his first Regional Final this year exceeded his expectations.
"I didn't think I was going to win at Regional Finals this year, I was pretty surprised to see my name up there.
"I was going into the day to win, but I wasn't actually sure how I would go because I didn't get quite as much prep in as I wanted to."
Now, he spends his evenings sharpening his business and theoretical knowledge, something he had identified as a weakness.
However, he knew his strong practical skillset, along with being a stickler for the finer details, would play to his advantage across the three-day contest.
"I've definitely got an eye for detail, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. It might take me a bit longer to do things but I can see the job through at a high quality.
"Being young is a good thing too, it's a good experience and I'll be pretty pleased at the end of the Grand Final.
"I'll have a lot of new learnings and have met a lot of people. It'll be a great opportunity."
When asked about his goals and ambitions in life, Reesby's first answer was "to win the FMG Young Farmer of the Year".
"Being known and acknowledged as a good farmer, a good custodian of the land would be pretty cool."
Vote for David Reesby in the 2022 FMG Young Farmer of the Year People's Choice Award here.