Dairying ‘in their DNA’, share farmer winners say

Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards share farmer of the year winners Nicole Hanning-Smith and...
Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards share farmer of the year winners Nicole Hanning-Smith and Cameron Smith. PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND DAIRY INDUSTRY AWARDS
Dairy farming is "in their DNA", the winners of the 2024 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards share farmer of the year category say.

Cameron Smith and Nicole Hanning-Smith were announced winners of the region’s share farmer of the year category at a function in Invercargill last week.

Mr Smith and Mrs Hanning-Smith said they had a huge love for the land and the animals and there was "never a dull moment on farm".

"It is challenging but so rewarding — your hard work gets you places. The endless opportunities for growth is the best part, as the dairy industry allows people to easily move up the ranks," they said.

The couple are contract milkers for Steve and Tracy Henderson on their 215ha, 580-cow Awarua property. They won $7900 in prizes and three merit awards.

Mr Smith, 27, was second in the 2021 Southland/Otago dairy trainee category and said the awards allowed personal growth and development.

They both came from farming backgrounds and attended Lincoln University, where they graduated with commerce degrees majoring in agriculture.

Runner-up in the category went to Oliver and Lauren Badcock, who are contract milkers for Andrew and Heather Tripp on their 275ha, 850-cow Kaiwera Gore farm.

The first-time entrants felt like they were in a position on-farm where the experience of entering the awards would benefit them and their farming business.

"We work for supportive owners, and we felt the awards programme would help us fine-tune our business."

Mr Badcock grew up on a beef and cropping farm in the United Kingdom, while Mrs Badcock is a self-titled townie who studied law at the University of Gloucestershire.

"With clear goals, there is a pathway to success in New Zealand dairying," they said.

Dairy manager of the year Andrew Hazlett, 35, is farm manager on Paul and Rachel Diprose’s 208ha, 570-cow Thornbury property. He has entered the awards programme previously and found the experience confidence-boosting.

He credited his father with passing on his love of farming and has progressed through the ranks since beginning in the industry 21 years ago.

"I’m excited about the new technology coming in and am working to own my own farm, passing my love of farming down to my kids."

The dairy trainee of the year is Shannon Butler, who was inspired to enter after attending the awards dinner last year and then hearing 2022 Southland/Otago dairy manager winner Laura Murdoch speak at a primary ITO class.

"I thought ‘why not do something out of my comfort zone and meet other people in the industry?’," she said.

Ms Butler, 28, is farm assistant on Allan and Kaye Wilson’s 200ha Invercargill property, milking 600 cows. Future farming goals include completing a diploma in agricultural business and continue progressing into an assistant manager position.