Four of the five 2019 Nuffield New Zealand Scholars announced at Parliament this week are Federated Farmers members, Feds board member and arable chairperson Karen Williams says.

"We're proud of that - the Nuffield Scholarships are a fantastic opportunity.

"Not only do they help foster the development of the next generation of agri-business leaders but what they learn during their overseas study tours and networking adds to the pool of knowledge that will keep New Zealand at the forefront of quality food production."

Williams, who was at Parliament on Tuesday to hear Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O'Connor announce the 2019 scholarship winners, said the four working farmers (Cam Henderson, Hamish Marr, Corrigan Sowman, Hamish Murray) and Beef & Lamb NZ senior analyst Ben Hancock, are already involved in all sorts of roles beyond their own farm gate/working environment.


Read more from Federated Farmers here.

Their learnings from the 12-month Nuffield programme, including 18 weeks of funded international study/travel, will have ripples through a diverse range of sector organisations.

Speaking at a lunch-break during a two-day induction with Nuffield mentors and alumni, Cam Henderson said his aim was to "peer behind the curtain of value-add".

"I want to learn more about what factors make value-add businesses successful, looking at things like capital requirements and the risk profile, and doing a bit of a comparison on commodity versus value add."

Henderson owns and operates a 750 cow dairy farm near Oxford, North Canterbury and commits much of his time to the Waimakariri Zone Committee in setting local environmental limits and representing farmers as North Canterbury Federated Farmers Provincial President.

He says he's starting to formulate a list of some conferences to go to "but the first couple of weeks of [overseas study] are pre-planned for us and at the moment I'm quite happy to be swept along.

"We've just had some really good advice from Hamish Gower [of Massey University] that it's best to spend a bit of time overseas asking questions. Ten times out of ten, guys get over there and what they had in mind [to investigate] completely changes once they start talking to others."

Corrigan Sowman, a dairy farmer from Golden Bay, is deputy chair of the Dairy Environmental Leaders Forum and Chair and independent director of the South Island Dairy Development Centre, which operates the Lincoln University Dairy Farm.


He says lots of stuff is being done behind the farm gate on environment enhancement and other attributes that add value to milk "but we don't necessarily have a model inside the [Fonterra] co-operative to reward that.

In a co-op environment where farmers have to share the good and bad, where's the incentive to strive?

"So I'm interested to understand how we could better reward those value attributes inside our changing production systems."

Hamish Marr, who represents Federated Farmers on the herbage seed growers section in Mid-Canterbury and within that on the committee for the Seed Quality Management Authority, is a fifth generation intensive arable farmer from Methven.

He says farmers over the years have become dependent on a vast array of synthetic agrichemicals as a means of controlling weeds, pests and diseases and as a result, increasing yields across the board. But this is being challenged and Hamish hopes to study the regulation that is being introduced in Europe and the implications for New Zealand.

Hamish Murray, who has been managing a high country farm in Marlborough for a decade, recognises that people are the most important element in successful business and that relationships are paramount in living a full and enjoyable life.

Through the Nuffield programme he wants to gain an understanding of how differences in environment, education and values shape agricultural consumers and employees.

Ben Hancock was raised on his family's Wairarapa hill country sheep and beef cattle farm. He is now based in Wellington working for Beef + Lamb New Zealand as a senior analyst, still near the farm and often back home to work.

With New Zealand's agriculture being export focused, improving the diversity of markets can help to minimise volatility and maximise highest value outcomes. There are markets that have traditionally used sheep products that maybe under-utilised by New Zealand. Ben is interested in researching this during his scholarship.

Nuffield Farming Scholarships have been offered to innovative New Zealand farmers since 1950. They were first established in the UK by Lord Nuffield to create an opportunity for farmers to explore best agricultural practice around the world and facilitate innovation in the sector through travel and networking.

The programme has since grown both in New Zealand and internationally, building up a 150-strong network of scholars nationally, and more than 1,600 alumni internationally.