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Last chance a charm for Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year winner

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

A Northland farmer has moved closer to clinching one of New Zealand's top farming honours by winning the Season 56 Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year title. 
 
Caleb Eady, aged 30, was declared the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday night after two days of intense competition held at the Mangakahia Sports and Community Complex near Whangarei. 
 
Eady’s win secured him the only remaining spot in the Season 56 FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final. He will now prepare to face six other regional champions in the ultimate showdown, set to take place in Hamilton in July. 
 
The weekend's competition, which marked the conclusion of seven Regional Finals held across Aotearoa from February to April, kept contestants on their toes, says Eady. 
 
“You always want to win, but I was just taking it one step at a time. I knew the other contestants well and knew they were tough, so making it to Saturday felt like a big win in itself." 

Caleb Eady
Caleb Eady building a gate in a 30-minute head-to-head

Eady is no stranger to the Contest, after Convening the Season 55 Northern Regional Final, and being an active part of the Young Farmers’ community for many years. 
 
“I’ll be ageing out of Young Farmers soon, so making it to the Grand Final is a pretty cool way to see out my time in the organisation.” 
 
Eady operates a fencing business in Northland and leases a beef farm with dairy grazers and a small calf-rearing operation. When asked about the best part of the weekend, Eady was excited about the practical challenges thrown at the Contestants. 
 
“The farmlet played right into my fencing strengths, as did building a gate and dealing with water issues in the head-to-heads.” 
 
Franklin Young Farmers member Sam Waugh, age 31, clinched second place by only two points. Meanwhile, Kaipara Young Farmers member Zarnie Fergusson, age 30, secured the third spot on the podium for the third year in a row. 

Sam WaughSam Waugh competing in a head-to-head
 
The FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition is dedicated to showcasing the very best talent in New Zealand’s food and fibre sector. Now in its 56th year, the title of “FMG Young Farmer of the Year” is held up as one of the most prestigious farming awards in the country.    
 
The next generation was also out competing, with Hanna Smith and Sophie Chandler from Mount Albert Grammar taking out the Northern FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year title for 2024. Meanwhile, Grayson Putt, Dylan Ivey and Olsyn Yearbury from Kamo Intermediate School were the 2024 Northern AgriKidsNZ Champions. 

Last year’s Northern FMG Junior winners Tessa Berger and Mary Innes from Mahurangi College placed second in the Northern FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Competition.   

Runner-up and third in the AgriKidsNZ contest were Alfred Neumann, Charlie Reed and Mackenzie MacDonald from Whangarei Intermediate School and Rubee Mortensen, Kaia De Goldi and Amber Lironi-Irvine who are homeschooled.  

They have also been invited to July’s FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.   

New Zealand Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says this year’s Grand Final is shaping up to be one of the best yet.   
  
“Every year we continue to be blown away by the caliber of our FMG Young Farmer of the Year contestants, from our AgriKidsNZ participants through to those vying for the regional FMG Young Farmer of the Year title. Their knowledge, skills and passion for the industry is impressive and certainly leaves us excited for the future of our industry.”  
  
New Zealand’s primary sector exports were worth more than $57 billion in the year to June 2023, accounting for 81.9% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports. NZ Young Farmers has been part of the backbone of this primary industry for nearly 100 years, nurturing and supporting talent while growing connected communities.  
  
Coppersmith says it’s the regional communities and volunteers who have made the FMG Young Farmer of the Year the prestigious event it is today.  
  
“We simply couldn’t do it without the tireless work of our local committees, communities and volunteers. These are people who support us year in, year out, and we’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has played a part.”   
  
The FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest is proudly supported by FMG, Ravensdown, WorkSafe, Ministry for Primary Industries, Milwaukee, Woolworths, Honda, Lincoln University, Massey University, PTS Logistics, New Holland and Bushbuck.   

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

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