The margin between success and failure is likely to be small when the northern regional final of the 2018 FMG Young Farmer of the Year is contested at the Kerikeri Domain and Kerikeri Sports Complex on March 17.
There will be added pressure on two of the contestants, both 50:50 sharemilkers and both aged 30, meaning this will be their last crack at the competition, although one of them hopes he might have a slight home town advantage.
Colin Beazley, who sharemilks 350 cows on a split-calving farm at Wellsford, and who is having his fourth shot at the competition, said he lived in Kerikeri for 15 years, which he hoped might give him the edge.
Guy Bakewell, who will also be ineligible after his next birthday, managed an 800-cow dairy farm in Taupo before he too moved to Wellsford, but the two old hands will have some stiff competition.
Clement Lafon (26), a qualified mechanical engineer who speaks French, Spanish and English, and has worked for a hydraulic pump maintenance company, in Africa, arrived in New Zealand in 2013, and now manages a 540-cow Jersey stud north of Whangarei.
Daniel Bradbury (28), who left the United Kingdom for Northland in 2014, and now contract milks 515 cows at Kawakawa, while Tim Dangen (25), who attended Lincoln University on a Future Leader Scholarship, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture), jointly owns a 105ha farm with his parents at Muriwai, rearing 550 Friesian/Hereford-cross calves. This will be his first attempt at the competition.
Tim's sister Emma will contest the Taranaki/Manawatu regional final.
Rachael Blackley (25), secretary of Whangarei YFC, who was raised on a 809ha sheep and beef farm in Whangarei, has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree from Massey University, and manages a 480-cow split-calving property owned by Douglas Farms.
John Kenworthy-Thompson (26) is a qualified fitter and turner who has worked in Canada as a diesel mechanic and harvested cotton in Australia. He helps his parents run a large-scale dairy and beef operation at Maungaturoto.
At 21, Sam Moscrip, who herd manages a 400-cow family dairy farm at Hukerenui, is the youngest competitor, and is relishing the prospect of his first regional final. He has a Bachelor of Agriculture Commerce degree from Lincoln University, where he was a Future Leader Scholar and chairman of Lincoln YFC for two years.