New Zealand's best young farmer to be found in grand final next month

Okato dairy farmer, James Lawn will represent the Taranaki /Manawatu region at the national finals in July.
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Okato dairy farmer, James Lawn will represent the Taranaki /Manawatu region at the national finals in July.

The nation's top young farmer will be found when seven contestants battle for the title next month

Before the eventual winner of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year is unveiled they have to prove themselves to be a dab hand at speeches, rural quizzes  and practical farming. The final will be in Manawatu from July 6-8.

A field of seven finalists  from Northern, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Taranaki/Manawatu, East Coast, Tasman, Aorangi and Otago/Southland areas will assemble for the competition.

the finalists were honed down from 56 contestants in regional finals.

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Organisers say the contest portrays agriculture as a professional industry providing career opportunities and remains the cornerstone of the nation's economy. 

The top seven will be put through a range of practical, theoretical and technical farming challenges. Each level of the competition combines practical hands on agriculture skills and general knowledge. The level of complexity and difficulty increases as the contestants progress from district to regional contests and finally at the grand final. 

In the past they were required to put in a fence, cook, change a wheel and carve out a chainsaw sculpture.

Among this year's finalists will be 24-year-old Karaka townie Lisa Kendall who is among the hot favourites to take the title. She grew up on a lifestyle block and convincingly beat experienced opposition at the Northern final.

Taranaki/Manawatu representative James Lawn will compete alongside friends and former flat mates Richard French and Hamish Best. The dairy farmer has broad experience to back him up after travelling extensively throughout the world.

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The Central Economic Development  Agency, based in Palmerston North estimates the competition will bring a million dollar benefit to the region and would showcase the North Island AgriHub.

The first regional final was held in a small hall at the former Lincoln College and broadcast live on radio in 1969 and was won by Gary Frazer of Tasman with a first prize of a return airfare to Australia and $500 cash. The event has grown and today contestants vie for more than $300,000 in prizes.

 - Stuff

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