Arable Awards sells out in celebration of ‘heroes’

Arable farmers will put a rugged growing year to one side and pack the house to celebrate their innovators and champions.

Organisers had to book another room to cater for a crowd teetering at 400 for tomorrow’s New Zealand Arable Awards at Christchurch’s Te Pae conference centre.

The inaugural function includes new and existing awards by Federated Farmers, the Foundation for Arable Research, United Wheatgrowers and the Grain & Seed Trade Association.

Federated Farmers Arable Industry Chairman Colin Hurst said the response from growers and trade people to set aside time for the event was impressive.

"We have sold out the event after managing to extend the venue and open up the room. It’s blown us away and beyond all our expectations."

He said the finalist line-up for the categories included unfamiliar faces.

"This is promoting what our people do — really great work.

"A lot of our people are humble people and like to go under the radar. So we are really proud of our people as we’ve had everything thrown against us. Certainly the weather through Canterbury has been terrible."

Covid-19, supply chain and workforce disruption, inflation and many other challenges had failed to deter growers from putting forward 80 nominees and celebrating their heroes, hesaid.

The awards recognise top maize, cereal and seed growers and a standout agronomist.

The other categories are for Emerging Talent, Environment and Sustainability, Innovation and an Arable Food Champion. An overall winner will be chosen from the nine category winners.

Mr Hurst said the arable sector deserved to be highlighted as it generated $800 million of sales a year, including $260 million in exports.

"Our industry involves more than $2 billion in annual direct and indirect spending and 11,310 full-time equivalent jobs. Not only are we world leaders in seed production — 60% of the world’s radish seed, 50% of white clover seed and 40% of global carrot seed, for example — the maize, feed and grass seed we grow is crucial for the New Zealand dairy and meat producers who drive the lion’s share of our export receipts."

The arable sector would like to eventually build up the event to the profile of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, he said.