Dairy industry awards sweep for Canterbury and North Otago farmers


Dairy Industry Award winners Peter O’Connor, Will Green and Jaspal Singh. Photo / Provided


Canterbury and North Otago have wiped the slate clean at this year’s Dairy Industry Awards.

For the first time in its 33-year history, the three main categories and the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award went to farmers from both regions.

The winners received the silverware at the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Center on Saturday evening.

Will Green, a Hinds-based milker, has been named New Zealand Farmer of the Year.

The 34-year-old from the UK is a 34% dairyman on a farm that milks 1,060 cows.

Farmers Chief Justice Guy Michaels said Green impressed the judges with his infectious energy, precision and constant scrutiny of cases, looking for opportunities to learn.

“He is a great example of someone who has come to New Zealand and recognizes the opportunities in the New Zealand dairy industry and has embraced the system, which is completely the opposite of what what he was used to at home.”

Listen to Jamie Mackay’s interview with New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year Will Green on the Country below:

Jaspal Singh, who works as a farm manager on Mark and Carmen Hurst’s 220-hectare, 800-cow property in Waimate, won the Dairy Manager of the Year award.

Singh moved to New Zealand from India in 2014 to study information technology, but after graduating he started working as a dairy farm assistant in Mossburn.

Dairy Manager CJ Gray Beagley described Singh as a professional, detailed and diligent individual who possessed a desire to succeed with a dedication to growth.

“From the moment we entered the farm to the moment we left, we witnessed an impeccably presented farm and a neat, professional presentation that showcased the knowledge and sense of responsibility of Jaspal for farm management and performance.

“Jaspal has shown his dedication to learning, growing and a strong desire to succeed in the New Zealand dairy industry and he also inspires others to excel, by coaching and sharing knowledge.”

He documented the improvement under his watch in a number of metrics, including reproductive performance, incidence of lame cows, somatic cell counts and production figures, Beagley said.

Judges said Singh provided his team with clarity on ‘why’ things were done a certain way, not just ‘how’ – with policies and procedures that ensured a consistently high quality outcome .

“Jaspal’s attention to detail was incredible and he demonstrated best practices across the board.”

The 2022 Dairy Trainee of the Year was awarded to first entrant Peter O’Connor from Canterbury/North Otago.

The 23-year-old, who holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from the University of Lincoln, grew up on a dairy farm near Westport and was actively involved in the family farm and its development.

He is currently in charge of the 242ha, 900 cow Mayfield property of Leighton and Michelle Pye and will move into a new role managing a 400 cow farm near Lauriston next season.

The judges said O’Connor was a mature and capable individual with extremely strong practical skills.

O’Connor also had an excellent understanding of the cooperative model and its importance to the industry, they said.

“He also understood that the model doesn’t just happen – you have to get involved if you want that to happen.

“Peter was aware of the major factors influencing the industry, including the labor shortage,” said judge Mark Laurence of DairyNZ.

“He has a good general knowledge of the industry and how these subjects then come back to the farm.”

Meanwhile, Canterbury/North Otago’s Craigmore Farming Services has been named the winner of the 2022 Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

The award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Fonterra to recognize dairy farmers who have shown leadership in their approach to sustainability.

The judges said the winning entry – represented by Stuart Taylor, GM Farming and Caroline Amyes, Agri Relationship Partner – stood out because of Craigmore’s emphasis on adapting individual farming systems to each of their 22 farms depending on the environment and the people.

This included the use of dung beetles, work on significant natural areas, a composting barn, boluses and a Halter trial at one of the farms, the judges said.

“Craigmore is leading the change and using different innovations on different farms to help create solutions that other farmers could then use.”

– RNZ with additional reports from The Country


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