29 August 2011
Patoka dairy farmers Nick and Nicky Dawson saw entering the 2011 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards as a good way to gain knowledge and “break down a few barriers”.
The Dawsons, who farm 480 cows in an equity partnership on 186ha of rolling contour northwest of Napier, were encouraged to enter the inaugural East Coast awards by a representative from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
They were proud to win the LIC Dairy Farm Award.
Nick 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”.
Much of Hawke’s Bay has traditionally been sheep and beef, so the conversion of large areas of sheep and beef land to dairying has created some controversy. The dairy industry in the region has certainly struggled with the ‘dirty dairying’ label.
“Sure, some farmers deserve the title, but I think most dairy farmers have really pulled their socks up in recent years.”
Nick says the Ballance Farm Environment Awards help to highlight the fact many dairy farmers care deeply about the environment and are trying their best to improve sustainability.
He says the awards judging process was relaxed, enjoyable and extremely informative.
“The judges were very friendly. They were obviously there to help us rather than catch us out.”
Nick says the awards are a “fantastic event” that brings together farmers from a wide range of farming types.
“So you get sheep farmers mixing with dairy farmers. I think that is important because it helps break down the barriers and highlight the benefits of working together.”
He urges other dairy farmers to step up and enter the awards. As well as representing their industry they 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.”
While it doesn’t boast the prize packages of some other competitions, 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 2012 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on September 1, 2011.
For more information on the 2011 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact BFEA East Coast regional coordinator Kate Taylor, ph (06) 8558 599, 027 603 2200, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust or the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, or email email@example.com.