The 2018 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners swapped office jobs for dairy farming six years ago and now appreciate the opportunities the dairy industry offers to grow and be self-employed.

Dan and Gina Duncan were rural valuers and knew the rural lifestyle was one they wanted for their family.

"I grew up on a dairy farm, and the importance of common sense and consequences are still able to be learnt by children from a young age," Dan said. "The freedom for children has changed though with a definite focus on health and safety."

"We entered to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our business. The competition highlighted the balance we were lacking between our financial and personal goals."

The couple were named the 2018 Northland Share Farmers of the Year at the region's annual awards dinner at Forum North in Whangarei last week. They won $7000 in prizes.

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The other major winners were the 2018 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year, Sam Moscrip, of Hukerenui, and the 2018 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year, Eden Ritchie, of Dargaville.

The 2018 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year, Sam Moscrip, 21, is herd manager on his parents' Alan and Jill Moscrip's Hukerenui farm, milking 400 cows.
The 2018 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year, Sam Moscrip, 21, is herd manager on his parents' Alan and Jill Moscrip's Hukerenui farm, milking 400 cows.

The winners in all three categories will represent Northland against category winners from other regions with the outcome announced during a national awards dinner at Invercargill on May 12.

The Duncans had entered the awards twice previously, with Dan competing in the Waikato Dairy Trainee category in 2013 and the couple entering the same region's Farm Manager competition in 2015.

"We entered to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our business. The competition highlighted the balance we were lacking between our financial and personal goals."

The couple are 50/50 sharemilkers for the Pouto Topu A Trust, milking 1020 cows on a 460ha Pouto property. Both Dan and Gina are aged 32 and have bachelor of applied sciences degrees majoring in rural valuation and management, with Dan holding a double major including agriculture.

Runners-up in the Northland Share Farmer of the Year competition were Peter Giesbers and Josiah Shaw, who won $2625 in prizes. They are 50/50 sharemilkers on a 130ha Grazing North Ltd property at Kaikohe, milking 390 cows.

Peter, 33, has been working in the dairy industry for 16 years, with he and his wife Lana now equity partnership farm owners and multiple farm 50/50 sharemilkers.

Josiah, 33, began as a farm assistant nine seasons ago, progressing through to where he and his wife Dawn are now equity partners 50/50 sharemilking with the Giesbers.

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The men say their partnership works because of good communication between all business partners, consultants and farm owners.

Third place in the 2018 Northland Share Farmer category went to Colin and Isabella Beazley, who are 50/50 sharemilkers on Neil Jones and Wendy Crow-Jones' 179ha Wellsford property, milking 330 cows. They won $1750 in prizes.

Eden Ritchie, 22, won the 2018 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year competition, picking up $5680 in prizes. She is a farm assistant on Jean Jeff's 550-cow, 380ha Dargaville property. Women also took the runner-up and third placings in the trainee contest category.
Eden Ritchie, 22, won the 2018 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year competition, picking up $5680 in prizes. She is a farm assistant on Jean Jeff's 550-cow, 380ha Dargaville property. Women also took the runner-up and third placings in the trainee contest category.

Winner of the 2018 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year competition is 21-year-old Sam Moscrip, who entered the awards to become more aware of how management decisions on-farm directly affect the economic and environmental sustainability of the property.

He won $6000 in prizes.

Sam has been farming fulltime since completing a bachelor of agriculture commerce degree at Lincoln University.

His future farming goals include herd ownership by 2023, equity partnership by 2025 and owning his own farm. He is now herd manager on Alan and Jill Moscrip's 200ha Hikurangi farm, milking 400 cows.

Pakiri farm manager Fred Hohaia placed second in the Dairy Manager competition, winning $1875 in prizes. He works on Rick Smith's 360-cow, 150ha property.

Third in the Dairy Manager competition was herd manager Clement Lafon, 26, who won $1250 in prizes. He works on Ian and Sarah and Ray Colebrook's Kamo property.

Clement holds a French degree in mechanical engineering and is proud of the successes he has achieved in fencing and Young Farmer competitions. "This was my first time competing in the Dairy Awards and it has been a real pleasure. I have been amazed to learn so much in such a short time."

Women were represented strongly in the 2018 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year competition, achieving a clean sweep of first, second and third places with 22-year-old Eden Ritchie named the winner.

It was the first time in the history of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards that women had won all three places in a competition.

Eden is a farm assistant on Jean Jeff's 550-cow, 380ha Dargaville property. She won $5680 in prizes.

Northland Dairy Trainee runner-up was Sarah Powell, 20, who placed third in the last year's Northland Dairy Trainee competition. She is a farm assistant on a Fonterra 500-cow, 239ha property at Hikurangi and won $1500 in prizes.

Jesse Insley was third. The 19-year-old is a farm assistant on Innes Anderson's 211ha Kaiwaka farm, milking 520 cows. She won $1250 in prizes.

The Northland Dairy Industry Awards field day will begin at 11am on March 28 at 329 Opuna Rd, Pouto, where Share Farmer title-holders Dan and Gina Duncan sharemilk. Also presenting at the field day will be winning Dairy Manager Sam Moscrip and Dairy Trainee Eden Ritchie.

More details on the winners can be found at dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

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

MERIT AWARDS

Share Farmer: Westpac Business Performance Award, DairyNZ Human Resources Award, Honda Farm Safety and Health Award, Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award and Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award, Daniel and Gina Duncan; Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award, Federated Farmers Leadership Award and LIC Recording and Productivity Award, Benson and Chevon Horsford.

Dairy Manager: Webb Ross McNab Kilpatrick Feed Management Award, Northland Regional Council Leadership Award, DeLaval Livestock Management Award, PrimaryITO Power Play Award, Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award and Westpac Financial Management and Planning Award, Sam Moscrip; IC Motor Group Most Promising Entrant Award, Fred Hohaia; Whitelaw Weber Employee Engagement Award, Clement Lafon.

Dairy Trainee: Carrfields Livestock Most Promising Entrant Award, Cathy Houten; Bryant Tractors 1983 Ltd Farming Knowledge Award and Trutest Community and Industry Involvement Award, Sarah Powell; Pioneer Brand Products NZ Communication and Engagement Award and DairyNZ Practical Skills Award, Jesse Rose Insley.