Q&A with Hamish Best: 2024 Next Gen Sheep Producers farmer

// B+LNZ // Extension

Hamish Best is one of two farmers selected to represent New Zealand in the 2024 Global Sheep Forum Next Generation programme, scheduled to take place in Australia from 3 to 10 August 2024.

image of Hamish Best

There are two interlinked parts of the program: Firstly, participants from partner countries form groups to focus on a specific aspect of sheep farming, collaborating online and presenting their findings at the Global Sheep Forum. Secondly, participants visit a partner country, with the 2024 visit hosted by Australia. This will include visits to farms, processors, and meeting with senior leaders of the Australian sheep industry, with participants finishing the trip attending Australia's LambEx conference in South Australia, the biennial event highlighting their sheep industry. 

Get to know Ohariu Valley farmer, Hamish Best, who has been selected to join the 2024 programme below. 

Tell us a bit about yourself 

Growing up on a family farm in Ohariu Valley, just outside of Wellington, I gained a passion for the industry from a young age, and it has only grown since then. 

I completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and then gained a First Class Honours in Agricultural Science, both at Massey University.  

Since then, I have worked across the industry from running a farm business (my current role), working in sales and farm services, right through to red meat retailing.  

I also worked in Australia for four years as a National Product Development Manager at DLF Seeds, which gave me a good understanding of our shared challenges with partner countries. 

Now that I’m back, I’m keeping busy running my hill country farm and Conscious Valley – a beef and lamb retail business.  

Why did you apply for the Next Generation Sheep Forum Programme? 

I really wanted to be a part of this great initiative that aims to engage the future leaders of the world’s sheep industry. 

The New Zealand sheep industry is facing pressure from all angles, as it has done for the last 30 years, so it is important for young leaders to collaborate to promote the industry and ensure it lasts for future generations to come.  

I applied because I wanted to be a part of these discussions with great, young minds in the industry across the globe. I think we have so much to learn from each other.  

The sheep industry has made me the person I am today and giving back to the industry is a priority for me so other young people get to enjoy a career in one of New Zealand’s best industries. 

What excites you most about our sector’s future? 

We have an exciting opportunity to set ambitious goals to get sheep meat/lamb as the most desired animal protein in the world. We produce such great products in our beef, lamb and wool, which all have a huge part to play in the future success of our country’s exports. Our sector has a chance to set itself apart from global counterparts as we produce a very unique product.  

Tell us about your current role at HKB Farming Ltd. 

I own and operate HKB Farming Ltd, a 450ha hill country farm 20 minutes from Wellington’s CBD. We winter around 1,600 ewes plus replacements and have 60 Angus and Speckle Park cows plus replacements. My goal is to make the farm carbon neutral, resilient to summer dry, reticulate the water supply, and become known as Wellington’s premium red meat supplier.  

I am also the owner and operator of Conscious Valley Ltd, a local red meat brand supplying beef and lamb direct from our farm into the city through restaurants and farmers markets. Our mission is to give Wellingtonians an option to purchase consistently high quality and locally farmed red meat. 

What are you looking forward to most about the Next Generation Programme? 

I’m excited to collaborate with other countries and represent the New Zealand sheep industry on a global level. Creating a network of international counterparts is important to explore different ways of farming.  

About Next Generation Global Sheep Forum 

The Next Generation Global Sheep Forum is part of the Global Sheep Producers Forum (GSPF), a collaborative initiative aimed at fostering sustainable practices in the global sheep industry. The programme brings together young sheep farmers from the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada, offering a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and skill development. 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a founding member of the Global Sheep Forum and is funding the two New Zealand Next Generation participants’ costs to be a part of the programme. 

Learn more about the Next Generation Global Sheep Forum.