Sibling rivalry will be a key feature at next weekend's Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest, with three contestants from Waitane Young Farmers sharing the same surname.
The two-day competition is set to kick off on Friday morning at Wingatui Racecourse in Mosgiel, marking the beginning of a nationwide contest to find New Zealand’s top young farmers. Seven Regional Finals will take place across Aotearoa between February and April and only the top contestants will qualify for a spot at July’s Grand Final in Hamilton.
172 AgriKidsNZ, FMG Junior and FMG Young Farmer contestants from across the region have put their names forward for a shot at victory. Siblings Laura, Megan, and Richard Whyte are among them and say they’ve been busily preparing for the ultimate battle of skills, knowledge, strength and endurance.
“We all do have a competitive side, but we all like to see each other do well. The last time we went head-to-head I saw my sister learn to shear a sheep. I was pretty proud of her that day,” says 23-year-old Megan.
The siblings all work on the family’s sheep, beef and grain farm outside of Otama, just twenty minutes away from Gore. They’ve been part of the Waitane Young Farmers Club for the last few years.
Younger sister Laura says she'll be using the upcoming competition as an opportunity to learn new skills.
“Learning things that you wouldn’t normally learn at home has been awesome, from vet to breeding to bull-picking modules, it’s always really interesting.”
Working on the farm for the last five years, Richard hopes to showcase his passion for fencing as he prepares to wow the judges with his knowledge and practice.
“The fencing side of the competition is a great way to improve your skills and put them to the test. I quite enjoy doing stuff like that.”
Usually, a series of one-day district competitions kickstart the annual contest, but this year’s format looks a little different with both the district and regional competitions rolled into a single weekend.
Co-Convenor Emma Wilson says the contestants better buckle up as Otago Southland’s competition is shaping up to be a great one.
“The committee has been working hard to put on a great event designed to test them on a variety of modules that really showcase what Southland farming is all about. We have a great lineup of competitors, and I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together.”
Contestants will compete in one of three categories depending on their age. Primary school students, some as young as eight, enter the AgriKidsNZ contest, while High School students, working in teams of two, are eligible for the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year competition. Those who’ve left school compete alone for a shot at rural stardom.
NZ Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says it's encouraging to see a high number of contestants this year with 43% being first-timers.
“Season 56 is shaping up to be one of our best yet with so many new faces including a large number of primary students entering our AgriKids NZ competition. It just goes to show the future of farming is in good hands.”
The FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series would not be possible without its family of sponsors FMG, Ravensdown, WorkSafe, Ministry for Primary Industries, Milwaukee, Woolworths, Honda, Lincoln University, Massey University, PTS Logistics, New Holland and Bushbuck.
Keep reading other articles from the same authors and about the same topics.