One of the highlights of the dairy industry calendar — the Dairy Industry Awards for the Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa region — will be held in Masterton.

The winners will be announced at an awards dinner at Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park on Saturday, March 16, with categories for Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year, and Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The three winners will then go on to compete at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards with winners announced in Wellington on Saturday, May 11.

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards attracts farmers from across the country, working in all levels of the dairy industry. The three competitions give entrants the chance to challenge themselves, earn a regional or national title and to share in substantial regional and national prize pools.

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New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards general manager Chris Keeping says entering one of the competitions remains one of the best ways people can raise their profile and reputation, as well as learn more about the industry to progress their career.

"The overwhelmingly positive feedback we receive from entrants is how much they learnt during the process and how glad they are they entered," she says.

"Entrants tell us that they really had to sit down and look at their business and how they were doing things on the farm and why.

"Entering the awards really is a learning journey — about the industry, about your business and about you as a farmer," says Chris. "It's a unique opportunity for farmers to learn, connect with other like-minded people and grow both personally and professionally."

The awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and Westpac along with industry partners Dairy NZ and Primary ITO.

The three competitions in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are:

■ The Share Farmer of the Year — open to all self-employed farmers largely responsible for the day-to-day running of the farm, such as sharemilkers, contract milkers, lessees and equity farm managers.

■ The Dairy Manager of the Year competition — open to all salaried farm workers, including farm assistants, assistant farm managers, 2ICs, operations managers, farm managers, herd managers, production managers and others.

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■ The Dairy Trainee of the Year contest is open to those aged between 18 to 25 years who are currently employed on a dairy farm fulltime and have no more than three years fulltime experience on a dairy farm.

A Regional Winners Field Day will be held on Thursday, April 11 at a venue yet to be announced.

To purchase tickets for the Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa Awards Dinner and for more information on the New Zealand Dairy Awards visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.