More than 300 people attended the celebrations, which recognised the people, technologies and innovations that contributed so much to New Zealand’s red meat sector.
Kate Acland, chairwoman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, was blown away by the calibre of the finalists.
"Sheep and beef farmers are often quite humble in their nature, but it is essential we put ourselves forward, that we celebrate our success and share our stories with wider New Zealand.
"It is going to be a tough season, and in tough times, it is more important than ever to celebrate the sector’s many achievements."
The science and research award was won by the Low Methane Sheep Genetics Programme. This was represented by AgResearch scientists Dr Suzanne Rowe and John McEwan.
The programme has led the development of the world’s first livestock genetic selection tool for methane reduction.
The award judges commented it was world-leading research and globally significant in its application for New Zealand sheep farming.
Judges said the team’s vision and foresight to identify the future challenges for the sheep and beef industry and advocating for genetics research meant the research was under way when needed. As a result, the sheep industry had a genetics option available to help reduce on-farm methane emissions.
The technology award was won by Silver Fern Farms/Lynker net carbon zero mapping tool.
The judges said the mapping technology and associated processes provided a practical and cost-effective way to create a brand and reward farmers for their on-farm vegetation.
The technology enabled farmers to capitalise on the vegetation on their farms while meeting consumer demand for red meat produced with a smaller environmental footprint.
The judges added the technology sped up the measurement of on-farm vegetation which has traditionally been a laborious and time-consuming process.
The innovative farming award was won by the Marlborough-based fence-post recycling company Repost Ltd.
Using waste posts from the viticulture industry, Repost Ltd turns them into low-cost fence-post options for sheep and beef farmers.
The judges described Repost Ltd, owned by St Arnaud farmers Dansy and Greg Coppell, as being a fantastic example of farmers finding a solution to an on-farm challenge and turning it into a unique recycling business.
They said Repost Ltd was an innovative circulatory solution which had clear environmental and economic benefits.
The market leader award was won by the recently formed veal company Pearl Pastures.
Owned by Alan McDermott and Julia Galwey, Pearl Pastures began by identifying the needs of the customer — in their case chefs — and worked backwards to produce a veal product that met their requirements, thus driving demand.
The judges said there was no better example of market leadership, with Pearl Pastures striving to be an exemplar at every stage of the supply chain.
Pearl Pastures was also providing a novel solution to the difficult issue of wastage in the dairy industry.
The emerging achiever award was won by Darfield-based Amy Hoogenboom.
The award judges described New Zealand’s beef genetics manager for Zoetis as a great example of a hard-working young professional.
They said she had clear goals, a massive passion for the sector and its success and was highly motivated.
The people and development award was won by the New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust.
The judges said the trust, which manages the Nuffield Farming Scholarship and the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme alongside other initiatives, offered high-quality, fit-for-purpose leadership programmes for the primary sector.
They added the trust was well known, highly regarded and had demonstrated longevity in the sector.
The rural champion award was won by the nationwide farmer mental health and wellbeing initiative Surfing For Farmers.
The judges said it was hard not to give Surfing For Farmers a perfect score.
Surfing For Farmers had grown to reach a large national audience, it was novel, enabled connections and had high impact in supporting farmers’ wellbeing.
The programme, which is run by volunteers, had maintained sponsorship and had grown significantly.
The significant contribution award was won by Canterbury-based farm systems scientist Tom Fraser.
For more than six decades, he has been translating science into farmer language and has provided farmers with the tools, approaches and wisdom that has helped drive productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes.
Mr Fraser’s passion has been for science to be relevant, useful and to make a difference.
The regional leadership award, which recognised an outstanding individual, organisation or business in the sheep, beef and dairy beef sector, went to Cheviot sheep and beef farmer Ben Ensor.
— Staff reporter