Dairy farmer Emma Hammond, of East Limehills, felt honoured when she was nominated for this year's prestigious Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

The only South Island-based finalist, she and the other three women will hear if they are winners during a dinner this evening at the Allflex Dairy Women's Network's conference in Christchurch.

''For us to be recognised for what we do and get that acknowledgement is humbling,'' Hammond said.

''To get this far and to be able to share my story has been a privilege.''

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She has been on the Fonterra Shareholders' Council and representing farmers in Eastern Southland for more than four years.

She had previously served on the council's representation and co-operative culture committees, as well as the budget and leadership teams, and she is a currently a member of the performance committee.

''I am also a member of Dairy Women's Network and I believe their role in the dairy community is invaluable for women working in the sector.''

She and husband Peter own a 164ha effective dairy farm in an equity partnership near Winton, milking 475 cows with a 215,000kgMS target.

They have three children; Ferguson (8), Nicholas (11) and Annalise (14).

''Peter has been a great support and so have my sister-in-law Ruth Dyer and my parents.''

The couple originally owned a sheep and beef farm before buying the property next door and converting it.

The only relics of their sheep farming days are their five pet sheep.

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''We bought the property in 2008, and the only way to buy it was to convert to dairying.''

However, about the same time the global financial crisis hit.

''That was not the best time to do it, but it made things more interesting.''

Early in her career she was a quality assurance officer at the Alliance Lorneville processing plant, and was later responsible for risk management, and compliance for market access.

She is learning to improve her leadership skills and is working through Fonterra's governance development programme.

''We learned how to ask the right questions and have your voice heard, which is not always easy if you are not an extrovert.''

One of the things she is most proud of, was her involvement in Fonterra's governance and representation review in 2016.

She held lots of meetings to gather shareholders' views.

As part of her council role, she gets feedback about ''bigger picture'' topics such as Fonterra's capital structure and performance.

''We take those views on board and we listen to them.''

The environment is also a key concern for shareholders.

''Our farmers want to do the right thing environmentally and sustainably, not only for the environment, but for our animals and our people as well.

''The dairy industry, in my opinion, is doing a fantastic job [environmentally].

''Our farmers are caretakers for the land for the next generation.''

The other finalists are Trish Rankin from Taranaki, Kylie Leonard, of Taupo and Julie Pirie from Ngatea in the Waikato.