Excitement is building for the qualifying rounds of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest, kicking off on the first weekend of October.
Sixteen district contests will be held throughout October and November to select the eight finalists for each region who will move through to the seven Regional Finals, early next year.
It was unfinished business for many of the competitors after the cancellation of the 2020 season for the first time in the contest's 52-year history due to Covid-19 restrictions.
East Coast Young Farmer of the Year for 2020, Joseph Watts was looking forward to this season in particular, and was hoping it was a case of third time lucky, after coming runner up at Grand Final in 2019.
"I was pretty shattered after finding out that I missed out on the 2019 title by 0.22 of a point, and then putting in the work to get through for another shot for the 2020 season, only for Covid to put a halt to that was gutting once again," he said.
"Knowing that the organising teams have had an extra 12 months to come up with one of the most physically demanding, entertaining, and mentally draining Grand Finals for 2021 has given me the drive to put that same time in to getting my body and mind in the best physical and mental state I can."
Watts' said he couldn't wait to be put to the test, and hoped to show it took both brain and brawn to win the FMG Young Farmer of the Year title.
New Zealand Young Farmers Chair Ash-Leigh Campbell said the 53rd season will be the fiercest one yet.
"We've got a lot of competitors who are rearing to go and looking to compete for fun, to benchmark themselves and to test their practical and theoretical skills."
"Covid-19 gave us some time up our sleeve to review, change and implement a few operational matters including the governance of the contest. With that, we've established a new Contest Subcommittee with some pretty phenomenal appointed members."
The Contest Subcommitte included former FMG Young Farmer of the Year Nigel Woodhead, and current reigning 2019 champion James Robertson; as well as former Grand Final convener and Excellence Award winner James Goodwin.
"We've got some of the best people on the ground to be implementing the strategy of the contest, so this is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting season," Campbell said.
The first two district contests kick off in Otago, convened by Josh Harrex and Waikato/Bay of Plenty, convened by Kaz White on October 3rd.
The 2021 Grand Final will be held in Christchurch in July.
The FMG Young Farmer of the Year is an iconic contest which began in 1969 and showcases the best of the country's agriculture, food and fibre sector.
The event is supported by FMG, Ravensdown, Honda, WorkSafe, STIHL, Lincoln University, Massey University, Southfuels/Northfuels, and New Holland.