3 September 2012
Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers Nick and Nicky Dawson are proud to stand up for their industry.
The Patoka couple, who farm in an equity partnership on two farms northwest of Napier, were winners of the LIC Dairy Farm Award in this year’s East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
Nicky Dawson says the award confirmed their 366ha farming operation was on the right track as far as sustainability goes.
“Farming has to be profitable, but you have to look after the resources you’ve got,” she says.
“As food producers we have to be accountable to consumers and to the environment.”
Nick Dawson says entering the competition was a good opportunity to represent the dairy industry and show the wider farming community that when it comes to sustainable farming “there are some half-decent dairy farmers out there”.
Like other regions, the dairy industry in Hawke’s Bay has struggled with the ‘dirty dairying’ label.
“I think most dairy farmers have really pulled their socks up in recent years.”
He says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards help to highlight that many dairy farmers care deeply about the environment and are trying their best to improve sustainability.
The Dawsons have now won the LIC Dairy Farm Award – an award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate “in a practical way the choices that have been made to farm for the long term”- two years in a row.
They also picked up the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Nutrient Management Award in the 2012 competition.
Judges praised the couple’s long-term view of their sharefarming business and the high performance of their farm. They said Nick and Nicky run a well-planned dairy unit with excellent soil and water management and sound staffing policies.
“The Dawsons have a passion to be successful, great community involvement and an excellent work to family ratio.”
Since winning the award, the Dawsons have expanded their operation again, buying a neighbouring bull beef farm this year. A significant proportion of this farm will be converted to dairying.
Nicky Dawson says their involvement with the Ballance Farm Environment Awards has been thoroughly enjoyable.
“I think the Awards are a great way to show the rest of the country the good things that dairy farmers are doing.”
Along with other leading New Zealand dairy farmers, she and Nick were invited to attend last year’s Building Dairy Environment Leaders forum, held in the Waikato.
As well as visiting Waikato farms, the forum featured top speakers from a range of industries.
Nicky says mixing with other dairy farmers and industry leaders was a rewarding and highly motivating experience.
Nick Dawson urges other dairy farmers to step up and enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. As well as representing their industry, entrants can expect to gain knowledge and be inspired by other like-minded farmers.
“People are scared of losing face, but it’s not that type of competition. It’s all about being yourself and learning as much as you can.”
Nick says the benefits make entering well worthwhile.
“There is definitely no point in sitting on your hands. Get out there and enter.”
Entries for the East Coast 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards are now open and entry forms can be downloaded from the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website at www.nzfeatrust.org.nz
For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, phone 07 834 0400, firstname.lastname@example.org.