Nick and Rosemarie Bertram from Woodville (Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa) were named the 2020 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year on Saturday night, July 4. Bay of Plenty's Andre Meier became the 2020 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Grace Gibberd from Waikato was announced as the 2020 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth more than $215,000.

Owing to Covid-19 restrictions, a gala dinner to announce the winners was not possible, so another way was found to celebrate success within the dairy industry. For the first time ever, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners were announced on national television and aired on Country TV on Saturday night.

"The 2020 Share Farmers of the Year are an outstanding example of hard work, dedication and leadership who are honest, traditional and epitomise sharemilker progression planning," says Anne-Marie Case-Millar of New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Share Farmer head judge, Jacqui Groves from Westpac, says the Bertrams impressed the judges by remaining true to their vision, their mission and values in life. "They were high achievers in all areas."

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Nick and Rosemarie, aged 33 and 27 respectively, are 50/50 sharemilkers on Barry and Carol McNeil's 150ha, 440-cow Woodville property.

Nick won the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and was runner-up in the Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmer category last year. He and Rosemarie believe the awards programme has opened many doors and job opportunities for them.

To win the national title and just over $52,000 in prizes, Nick and Rosemarie demonstrated strengths in pasture management, leadership, business and communication. They also won four merit awards: the Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award, the Federated Farmers Leadership Award, the DeLaval Interview Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award.

Fellow Share Farmer judge Matt Richards, from Southland says the Bertrams have a sound understanding of maximising pasture principles which influence operating profit and nutrient management. "They have a 'back-to-basics' style of farm practice, which includes no in-shed feeding, no topping, no feed pad and no irrigation," he said.

The judges also noted the Bertrams were up-to-date and well-researched on current affairs "They were both able to confidently share their opinions and views and were humble yet balanced."

Judge Guy Michaels from DairyNZ noted how strong Nick and Rosemarie were in their community involvement and leadership. "They share a goal of giving back to their community through their local fire brigade, Rural Support Trust, Farmstrong and Federated Farmers."

The Bertrams impressed the judges with their commitment to being a hands-on couple, running a profitable business and driven to repay debt. "They have an understanding of where they want to be."

"Nick and Rosemarie have demonstrated the perfect pathway to progression, achieving a goal of 50/50 sharemilking with no backgrounds in farming."

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Jacqui says the judges were extremely impressed overall at the high calibre of this year's finalists. "We usually see a key theme coming through but this year the finalists focused on all areas across the board."

The judges noted that while the world was in pandemic mode, it was business as usual for the finalists, while they also looked after the wellbeing of their staff. "They demonstrated how to be the backbone of New Zealand."

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and Westpac along with industry partners DairyNZ and PrimaryITO.

Visit www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information on the awards and winners.

2020 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year:

■ Winner – Nicholas & Rosemarie Bertram, Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa

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■ Runner-up – Sarah & Aidan Stevenson, Waikato

■ Third – Samuel & Karen Bennett, Southland/Otago

DairyNZ Human Resources Award, Sarah & Aidan Stevenson. Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award, David Noble & Katy Jones. Federated Farmers Leadership Award, Nicholas & Rosemarie Bertram. Honda Farm Safety, Health & Biosecurity Award, Sarah & Aidan Stevenson. LIC Recording & Productivity Award, Simon & Natasha Wilkes. Meridian Farm Environment Award, Samuel & Karen Bennett. Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award, Nicholas & Rosemarie Bertram. Westpac Business Performance Award, Nicholas & Rosemarie Bertram. DeLaval Interview Award,Nicholas & Rosemarie Bertram.