The Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards conveners are all geared up for the 2013 contest.
Conveners Kate and Aaron Murdoch, of Alton, and Thomas Higgins, of Eltham, are ready and waiting for entries which open in less than a month.
The Murdochs won the 2011 Taranaki Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year and Higgins was the 2012 Farm Manager of the Year.
Already they've set the date for the 2013 awards dinner and chosen a new venue.
The annual contest has grown so much that in recent years there has been a waiting list for tickets for the awards evening at the Stratford War Memorial Hall, which has been bursting at the seams.
Next year the dinner will be at the larger TSB Hub in Hawera on March 16.
Kate Murdoch, who said there was a waiting list of 80 for the 2012 dinner, expects 450 guests at the 2013 awards evening.
"The competition is continuing to grow and improve, with more and more entries each year," she said.
In past years, there were insufficient tickets for contestants' families and friends and for sponsors beyond their allocated number and no tickets for sale to interested members of the public.
However, even though extra tickets would be available next year, organisers still wanted to retain the intimacy of the contest, she said.
Entries for the contest, which has three categories - Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year - open on November 1 and close on December 20. Higgins, is convening the Dairy Trainee of the Year category and the Murdochs are convening the other two.
Those who enter before December 1 are in nationwide draws for a motorbike in each category. Judging begins in February.
A guest speaker is still being finalised for the launch of the Taranaki contest in Stratford on November 8.
This year's awards attracted 40 Taranaki entries and organisers hope to receive 45 to 50 entries for the 2013 contest. Category winners in the 12 regional contests go forward to the national awards in Wellington in May.
The Taranaki awards are being arranged by a 16-strong committee which has been busy since the end of the 2012 contest organising the venue, judges and sponsorship and a myriad of other details for the 2013 event.
Higgins said his success in the 2012 contest had helped fast-track his goal of owning his own dairy herd and his own farm.
While he was not working on the best farm or with the best cows, he could still demonstrate his passion for farming. "You don't have to the best, the biggest or the shiniest."
The Murdochs have been offered three equity partnerships since their 2011 success, which had boosted their journey to farm ownership by three years.
"As well, the contest really makes you look at your farm business. It helps you define what you are doing," Kate Murdoch said. "The judges provide a fresh set of eyes, they are unbiased and they give you ideas you would never have thought of."
The couple entered the competition twice and used the feedback from the judges the first time to improve their chances in 2011.
Success in the competition would also help entrants obtain sharemilking positions which were becoming scarce. "You have something for your CV that differentiates you from other sharemilkers."
The couple had a 2-week-old baby when the judges visited their farm. "So if you're thinking about it, just do it."
She advised prospective entrants to start thinking about the requirements for the contest now.
"Start thinking about your financials, have your accounts from last year sorted, keep your diary and your policies and procedures up-to-date. Start thinking about what you do and why you do it.
"You have to work with the infrastructure you have and it may not be all roses," she said.
She suggested prospective entrants start talking to their rural professionals who were generally willing to help their clients prepare for the contest.
Murdoch said the contest also created great networks for the entrants, both locally and nationally.
Higgins said entrants who kept on top of their record-keeping would have information at hand for their presentation to the judges. "Everything you show doesn't have to be positive."
Entrants could discuss in their presentation any problems that had occurred in their business and how they managed them.
Murdoch and Higgins both attended the conveners' national conference in Rotorua this week. Lorette Astwood-Davidson, who was the 2009 Taranaki Sharemilker of the Year with husband Paul Davidson, is a member of the awards' national executive and was also at the conference.
Follow the awards on twitter @nzdairyawards or check out http://www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz
- © Fairfax NZ News
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