7 September 2015
Sami and Laura Werder are young and enthusiastic farmers with big plans for improving the sustainability of their new Taranaki sheep and beef farm. So entering the 2015 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a great way to check their plans were on the right track.
The Werders bought their 378ha breeding and finishing property at Huiroa, east of Stratford, two years ago and are currently in the process of developing the farm through subdivision, improved access and a new water system.
“We were both raised on farms and we were lucky to have help from family to get into our own farm,” says Sami, a former rural banker.
“It’s a relatively new business for us but we’ve got plenty of projects planned for the next 5-10 years and entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) gave us the chance to put our plans in front of a team of experts and get some professional feedback for free.”
BFEA judges liked what they saw, awarding Awatea Farm three category awards, including the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award. This award recognises farmers who demonstrate in a practical way the choices that have been made to farm for the long term.
When assessing this award, judges consider the wise use of land, labour and capital resource. They also consider animal health and the careful matching of stock class and type to land contour and soil type.
Judges noted Sami and Laura’s “immense pride and enthusiasm” for their business and industry. They also commented on the couple’s healthy stock and strong yields, and their carefully planned subdivision programme which is designed to protect waterways, lift pasture quality and improve stock management.
Sami says winning the Beef + Lamb NZ Livestock Award was a great endorsement of their operation.
“We enjoy farming livestock. Animal health is very important to us and we are careful to match our stock classes to various land types.”
Winning aside, Sami says the whole BFEA process was well worthwhile.
“It’s always good to be challenged. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day stuff, but this competition makes you step back from that for a moment and focus on those crucial business drivers.
“For us it was a great opportunity to take a strategic look at our operation. We didn’t let the fact we were new to the farm stop us because we knew the judges were more interested in our plans for the future.”
Sami says the judges offered a valuable outside perspective of their operation.
“I’d say all farmers should give this competition a go. It forces you to sit down and think about what you are trying to achieve. You also get access to key professionals with different skills who take a look at your farm for free.”
Sami says he and Laura enjoyed the awards evening, even though Laura was due to give birth to their first child at any moment.
“It was great to mingle with like-minded farmers and other people from the industry.”
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says the farmer-funded and governed organisation supports the awards because they provide a great platform for showcasing that farming sustainably and profitably are not mutually exclusive.
“These farmers are demonstrating good environmental practices, and the value to the whole sector is seeing this at work.”
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are open to all farming types. Entries for the 2016 Taranaki BFEA close on 16 October 2015. Entry is free and entry forms are available online at www.bfea.org.nz