17 June 2014
Anticipation is building as the on-farm judging round for the National Winner title in the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards is completed.
Finalists vying for the prestigious Gordon Stephenson trophy now face an interview with the National Judging Panel at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will announce the winner at a gala dinner on June 26.
Simon Saunders, acting chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and chair of the National Winner judging panel, says Supreme winners from the ten regions involved in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards have all been visited by the on-farm judging team.
“Jamie Strang, our National Judging Coordinator, and Warwick Catto have travelled up and down the country and inspected a diverse range of farming operations. They have been blown away by the calibre of this year’s finalists. The judging panel is going to have a tough job picking a winner because all the finalists are doing a fantastic job in terms of their farming skills and their approach to sustainability.”
Mr Saunders says the National Sustainability Showcase is the highlight of the BFEA calendar, and this year’s event will wrap up another very successful year for the awards.
“We’ve had ten outstanding award ceremonies around the country and seen some amazing farming talent. Now we bring the cream of the crop to Christchurch to honour their achievements and to choose a new ambassador for New Zealand agriculture. ”
Contenders for the 2014 Gordon Stephenson trophy are Roger and Jane Hutchings, Northland, Rick Burke and Jan Loney, Bay of Plenty, Mike and Sharon Barton, Waikato, Rob and Sandra Faulkner and Bruce and Jo Graham, East Coast, Gavin and Oliver Faull and Tony and Loie Penwarden, Taranaki, Justin and Mary Vennell, Horizons, Matt and Lynley Wyeth, Greater Wellington, Mark and Devon Slee, Canterbury, Wayne McIntosh, Otago, and Andrew and Heather Tripp, Southland.
Prior to the National Showcase, entrants will undergo a 30-minute interview in front of the National Judging Panel. During this interview they will be asked to comment on New Zealand agriculture and its position in the international marketplace. They will also outline their values and strategies relating to their farm, leadership, urban and rural relationships and future threats and opportunities for NZ agriculture.
Mr Saunders says Supreme winners relish the opportunity to socialise in the two to three days leading up to the Showcase.
“They enjoy being able to present their farming operations to the other Supreme winners and hearing about what other Supreme winners are doing on their farms. They also get the chance to meet other leaders from all walks of the industry.”
About 300 guests are expected to attend the National Sustainability Showcase dinner, which is being held at Rydges Hotel, Christchurch.
Mr Saunders says the NZFE Trust is very pleased to be hosting the event back in Christchurch.
“It’s great to be supporting Canterbury and to celebrate the significant contribution agriculture makes to the region’s economy.”
The 2013 National Winner title was won by Canterbury farmers Craige and Roz Mackenzie.