4th-6th July 2019
In a couple of days’ time Hawke’s Bay will be buzzing with grand final fever.
The region is hosting the iconic FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final. It will be the first time in the contest’s 51-year history that the line-up of seven finalists has included two women.
Here’s a list of the finalists vying for the title:
Waikato/Bay of Plenty: Emma Dangen
Emma is a first-year large animal vet in the Waikato. She has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from Massey University and works for Vetora. The 24-year-old lives on a 750 cow split-calving dairy farm in Pirongia with her fiancé Chris Poole. She’s usually up in the dark feeding calves before work. Rearing calves is in her blood. Emma grew up on a farm at Muriwai Beach west of Auckland, where her parents and brother Tim rear and finish about 700 dairy beef calves. In her limited spare time, Emma is planning her wedding and enjoys playing sport.
Aorangi: Alan Harvey
Alan is an operations manager at Borst Holdings Ltd in North Otago. The privately-owned company milks 3500 cows across four large-scale dairy farms. Prior to moving into the dairy sector Alan worked for Oamaru-based Agri Planz and was an agronomist. The 28-year-old lives on his family’s North Otago dryland farm and has ambitious plans to double the number of Border-Romney cross ewes it carries. Alan has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours from Lincoln University and has worked on a high-yielding 400 hectare irrigated cotton farm in Australia. He’s competed in four regional finals.
East Coast: Joseph Watts
Joseph is a technical field representative for PGG Wrightson in central Hawke’s Bay. He’s the oldest of eight children and represented New Zealand in squash between 2008 and 2013, achieving a world ranking of 169. The 28-year-old has a Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies from Massey University and spent two years working as a shearer around Taihape and Raetihi. The Tikokino Young Farmers member grew up in the city and admits didn’t learn the difference between a ewe and a ram until he was 23. This is his first grand final.
Northern: James Robertson
James is an Auckland-based business graduate at Fonterra. He joined the dairy giant in February 2018 after completing a Bachelor of AgriCommerce at Massey University. James grew up on a 200 cow dairy farm in the Waikato. He attended Hamilton Boys’ High School and in 2013 won the TeenAg Grand Final with team mate Daniel Reymer. James is a member of Auckland City Young Farmers and at 22, is this year’s youngest grand finalist. Competing in an FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final is a dream he’s had since he was a young boy.
Otago/Southland: Matt McRae
Matt is a fourth generation sheep and beef farmer from Southland. His family’s agribusiness expanded in April, with the addition of a new 320 hectare lease block. The business will run 6500 ewes, 1900 hoggets, 300 dairy grazers and 120 beef steers. Prior to moving home to the family farm, Matt spent three years working for the ANZ National Bank. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University. Matt turns 31 next month, making this his last shot at winning an FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.
Taranaki/Manawatū: Alex Field
Alex is a stock manager at Tunnel Hill, a 1000 hectare coastal sheep and beef farm south of Whanganui. It’s owned by the Redmayne family, who founded Coastal Spring Lamb in 2010. The farm runs 3200 Romney breeding ewes, which start lambing in June – making it one of the country’s earliest-lambing sheep farms. It also has 310 Angus breeding cows and grows about 150 hectares of maize, which is harvested for grain. The 25-year-old has a Certificate in Agriculture and a Diploma in Rural Business from Telford and is the vice-chair of Marton Young Farmers.
Tasman: Georgie Lindsay
Georgie is a shepherd in North Canterbury. The 24-year-old made history in March when she became the first woman to win the Tasman regional final. She has five working dogs and has taken up dog trialling, competing in her first event at Waiau. Georgie has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours from Lincoln University. She was awarded a scholarship and travelled to Netherlands in 2017, spending a week visiting farms and a semen collection facility. The Amuri Basin Young Farmers member grew up on a sheep, beef and deer farm in Southland.
Hawke’s Bay is also hosting the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year and the AgriKidsNZ grand finals. Almost 100 students from across New Zealand will compete in those two events.