Gold just is not good enough for Otago's Stewart and Marie, Brendan and Amy Morrison of Kemra Farm, Balclutha.

The farming family have set the bar high, producing ''grade free'' milk for 14 years on the trot.

It's a target only an elite few can aspire to, earning the fifth-generation farmers the title of ''legend'' farmers for the fifth year in succession.

Achieving what is effectively the top of Fonterra's quality food chain - 10 or more years of ''grade free'' production - is not easy.


Only two other farmers in the southern region, Ann and Allan Black of Takitimu Trust in Southland and the Chalmers family, also of Balclutha, managed the feat, with 11 and 10 seasons respectively.

A further 66 farmers from the region merited ''gold'', having been ''grade free'' for more than four seasons.

In total there were a combined 230 ''grade free'' farmers in the region this past season, with all Otago and Southland farmers producing just over 251million kgMS.

The Morrisons run 400 cows on their self-contained 200ha farm outside Balclutha.

Kemra has been in the family for the past 100 years, and was converted by Stewart and Marie from sheep and potatoes about 26 years ago.

Mr Morrison credits the farm's consistency to an ongoing focus on good on-farm practices.

''We pride ourselves on the quality of our product. In that respect we're constantly learning, changing things and evolving.''

He said that above all, it was truly a team effort by everyone involved in the farm.


The Morrisons added another bouquet, recording a very low average somatic cell count of 88,000, a quality mark that is in the top 6 per cent nationally.

The Blacks have adopted a similar ethos to the Morrisons, focusing on strong attention to detail and an emphasis on being self-contained for ultimate controllability of their 500-cow, 267ha farm.

''We regard the cowshed as a food factory so attention to detail is paramount. Along with that detail is the immense pride and satisfaction from believing that if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well,'' Ms Black said.

Fonterra celebrated the achievements with three social events for its ''grade free'' top-of-class, hosting dinners in Invercargill, Balclutha and Gore.

Fonterra regional head Mark Robinson said this year's dinners attracted a record turnout, with combined RSVPs for 750 farmers and their families and staff.

''Each year is a new benchmark for farmers like the Morrisons and Blacks,'' said Robinson.

He acknowledged that the prior season had been something of a rollercoaster for both the co-operative and its shareholders.

Robinson said the co-operative had recently introduced the ''Co-operative Difference'', which recognised farmers across a number of quality and performance pillars, not only for being ''grade free'' but also keeping the Fat Evaluation Index at an A level and Somatic Cell Count below 150,000.