The country’s finest young farmers are competing for the title of Young Farmer of the Year in Christchurch.
The event, organised by the non-profit New Zealand Young Farmers, pits regional competition winners against each other in a two-day series of practical, technical, and theoretical events.
Lynda Coppersmith, chief executive of Young Farmers, said it was nice to be back after the event was cancelled last year due to Covid-19.
“I don’t think we realised how much we missed having the event until we all got together in the last couple of days and realised ‘yeah, this is actually really cool and we missed out on something big last year’.”
Coppersmith said the event, which has existed for over 50 years, meant a lot to the rural community and carried plenty of prestige.
“If you win young farmer of the year you are one of now 51, 52 exceptional young people in the rural sector.
“It tests every aspect of what it takes to be a farmer so if you do win you are obviously a pretty capable human being.”
The seven finalists will battle in out in a practical day today before the winner is crowned tomorrow.
About $100,000 in prizes was up for grabs, which included cash, machinery, tractors, chainsaws and other equipment.
This year’s contestants:
- Jake Jarman, Taranaki/Manawatu
- Sam Hodsell, Otago/Southland
- Joseph Watts, East Coast
- Calvin Ball, Northern
- Roshean Woods, Tasman
- Dale McAlwee, Aorangi
- Kieran McCahon, Waikato/Bay of Plenty
Young Farmers gets funding boost
The group that runs the awards has been given $1.76 million from the government to help attract more people into the food and fibre sector.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the contribution to the non-profit would come from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund.
“As a proud former member of Young Farmers I’ve seen the importance of the work they do to help farmers adapt and meet challenges head-on,” O’Connor said in a statement.
Coppersmith said the money would help the organisation to support itself economically and expand the reach of its 80 clubs including by developing its online platforms.
“I think the most critical thing that it will help us to do is to really strengthen and grow and develop our club network.
“You can’t underestimate the power of connecting young people to social support, particularly when they’re in isolated rural areas.”
It would help to build the agricultural workforce, she said.
“If we want to attract and retain young people in the rural sector we absolutely have to provide them with this kind of support.”