The winners in the inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Napier War Memorial Centre last night.
It was a celebration of the people, innovation, technologies and management systems that make New Zealand’s grass-based red meat industry world leading.
Andrew Morrison, Chairman of B+LNZ reflected on the achievements of the sector over the last couple of years and its resilience in maintaining strong exports in light of COVID-19.
“Environmentally, our sheep and beef production systems are amongst the most sustainable in the world with around 24 percent of New Zealand’s native vegetation flourishing on our sheep and beef farms, and one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints.”
Throughout the evening, the finalists of the eight award categories were introduced and winners announced. The Awards ceremony concluded with the presentation of the Regional Leadership Award.
The Ballance Science and Research Award was the first award to be presented and this was won by Lincoln University’s Dryland Pastures Research Group.
For the past 20 years, the Dryland Pastures Research Group has provided the science that underpins the agronomic guidance they provide to transform sheep and beef farms on hill country throughout NZ.
Their work has transformed thousands of hectares of east coast hill country from Central Otago to Gisborne. Their message has been to use legume dominance to address low nitrogen – the main impediment to production in farm systems.
In selecting the winner of this category, the judges commented that the Dryland Pastures Research Group had produced a huge and important body of work, tackling multiple soil types and farming environments with positive outcomes for productivity, resilience and environmental sustainability.
The Datamars Livestock Technology Award was won by software decision support-tool Farmax Ltd. Widely used by New Zealand’s pastoral farmers to help balance financial, environmental and production goals, Farmax encourages a holistic approach to farm planning.
The Award judges remarked that this decision support tool had evolved over 30 years and continued to innovate to drive farm profitability, productivity and sustainability. They noted that as science-based software, Farmax generated a good return on investment. It was a leader in what it provided farmers and the industry in terms of exploring future scenarios.
The Gallagher Innovative Farming Award was won by the Canterbury-based calf rearing business Maatua Hou Ltd.
Creating a viable business on a small land holding while demonstrating an alternative calf rearing model that reduces bobby calf wastage is at the heart of the Maatua Hou business.
Set up by four couples who saw an opportunity to think outside of the square, Maatua Hou owns a 34ha drystock block at Burnham, around 40kms outside of Christchurch.
They set up what they describe as an alternative calf-rearing model, one where the supplier cashflows calf rearing costs and profits are shared.
Judges commented that Maatua Hou provided an innovative and scaleable solution to the vexing problem of bobby calves.
As a business model, they believed it demonstrated an opportunity to build a dairy support industry. They said Maatua Hou was an interesting innovation which had its strengths in the partnership between producers and finishers and the sharing of benefits and returns.
The Silver Fern Farms Market Leader Award was won by Coastal Lamb Ltd.
For Richard and Suze Redmayne, launching the Coastal Spring Lamb brand in 2010 was the answer in their quest to better understand their lambs’ end-consumer.
Having a background in commerce and marketing before going farming, Richard wanted to build the connection between his family and the consumer through their brand, initially targeting New Zealand’s domestic market.
Today Coastal Lamb Ltd involves 17 family-owned supply farms from throughout the country. Critical to Coastal Lambs’ success is connecting the producers with the consumers (including chefs), many of whom had never had the opportunity to meet a farmer before.
The judges described Coastal Lamb Ltd as a true and innovative example of market leadership. Having forged a new path to market, Coastal Lamb Ltd had demonstrated a clear understanding of the market and in-depth communication with its customers.
AgResearch Emerging Achiever Award was won by Cambridge-based Estee Browne. Estee is the breeding programme manager for Browne Pastoral Enterprise’s sheep milking unit.
She oversees selecting the genetics and replacement ewes for the company’s 1400 ewe dairy unit and rears 2400- plus lambs to weaning, after which they are either finished or the retained as replacements.
The judges noted that Estee had broken stereotypes and was achieving in a male dominated area of the agricultural industry. She had created good, workable systems within the sheep milking industry and had clear goals and a good work life balance.
The Rabobank People and Development Award was won by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT).
AWDT lives its vision by empowering women to accelerate progress and change in the primary sector and rural communities.
Over the past 11 years the charitable trust has empowered almost 5000 people with confidence, purpose, leadership and influence – from the farm to the boardroom.
The judges commented on AWDT’s proven track record of successfully developing people. They said the organisation had identified a gap in the market and developed programmes targeting the female partners in farming businesses. This has helped build confidence and resilience in the whole red meat sector.
The FMG Rural Champion Award was won by Tairāwhiti-based agribusiness professional Sandra Matthews. Sandra was instrumental in setting up Farming Women Tairāwhiti (FWT) which now has a membership of over 850 primary industry women.
Sandra believes the success of FWT was partially due to the region’s isolation, with no other organisation offering farming women the support, connectivity and educational opportunities they were craving.
Since stepping back from FWT last year, Sandra has taken on several national governance and consulting roles and had more time to focus on her own business coaching business.
Judges remarked that the impact of Sandra’s vision and work in establishing, leading and growing Farming Women Tairāwhiti was immeasurable. As well as setting up FWT, Sandra has been involved in setting up a number of industry initiatives and played an often-understated role in championing the industry.
The Alliance Significant Contribution Award was won by AgResearch scientist David Stevens.
David Stevens’ 37-year career has spanned one of the more tumultuous periods in New Zealand’s agricultural history. He has seen the removal of subsidies and the rapid shift from a focus on stocking rates and wool production to meat and productivity.
The farm system’s scientist, who has background in agronomy, was initially involved in plant breeding but this changed in the early 1990s when farmers found that what they were producing was no longer fit for market.
They needed forages that would deliver in terms of animal performance and David and his colleagues began doing animal production trials alongside agronomic trials. This morphed into farm systems work. He says the most rewarding part of his work is having the opportunity to work one on one with farmers through a huge range of projects.
Judges noted that David personified the value of science in increasing productivity and efficiency in the sheep and beef sector. He has been instrumental in creating the foundation of modern sheep and beef farming systems which had delivered prosperity to many farmers.
They said David, who is based at Invermay, AgResearch’s research institute near Mosgiel, has had a long involvement with the sector and had contributed to the development of a number of resources which have significantly benefited farmers throughout the country.
The winner of the B+LNZ Regional Leadership Award, which recognised an outstanding individual, organisation or business in the sheep, beef and dairy beef sector, went to the East Coast Rural Support Trust. The Trust was represented by Hawkes Bay farmers Mark Barham and Jane Tylee and Wairarapa-based former farmer and Anglican priest Steven Thomson.
The winner of this award was identified by the Farmer Council in the Award’s host region.
The judges commented that these three Rural Support Trust members in particular had carried out outstanding work in the region, particularly during and after the drought.
Much of their work was confidential, so often went unrecognised, but the Regional Leadership Award was an acknowledgment of all they do to support rural communities and the people within them.
For any media enquiries, please contact Sandra Taylor at Sandra.Taylor@beeflambnz.com or 0211518685.