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S55: Southland dairy farmer crowned Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

A Southland dairy farmer has been crowned the Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year and will compete in the Grand Final in Timaru in July. 

Hugh Jackson, 24, was announced as the winner of the Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday evening, after spending the day competing in a range of activities at the Strath Taieri A&P Showgrounds. 

The Thornbury Young Farmers member was over the moon to get the win with a 60-point lead. This Regional Final was his fourth attempt at securing a spot at the Grand Final.

“I’ve had a few goes and quickly realised that taking out the win isn’t a given. You have to put in the work, so I’m stoked that my prep this year really paid off.”

Hugh2Hugh Jackson took out the title with a 60 point lead

Jackson says he is feeling excited about the Grand Final and will be enjoying the journey in the lead-up to one of the primary sector’s biggest events.

“It will be a full-on few months preparing for the Grand Final. I’m really looking forward to the challenge, I’ll be learning as much as I can between now and July!”

He will be competing against six other regional winners from throughout New Zealand, three of which are yet to be decided.

More than 150 looked on as contestants were put through their paces. The head-to-head contests were a major highlight – working side-by-side, contestants had just 30 minutes to build a stand for a tank, plumb a pipe to a trough, and bridge the pipe over the creek.

“The head-to-heads were great and a lot of fun, they had the right amount of challenge versus being achievable within a short timeframe. The organising committee did an awesome job putting together these challenges.”

It was a winning trifecta for Thornbury Young Farmers, with members James Fox placing second, and Cameron Smith securing the final spot on the podium. 

The next generation of young farmers also took part in Saturday’s competition, with twins Zoe and Millar McElrea taking out the title of Otago Southland FMG Junior Young Farmers of the Year for the third year in a row. The Three Western Girls team made up of Sierra Bennett, Elly Hurley and Sophie Parris from Hauroko Valley Primary School were the Otago Southland AgridKidsNZ winners. 

Flynn Hill and Shamus Young from Blue Mountain College placed second in the Otago Southland FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Competition. 

Runner up in the AgriKidsNZ contest was the Southern Boys team made up of Sam Horrell, Oliver Chamberlain and Tomas Clarke, also from Hauroko Valley Primary School. In third place was Team NSC from Northern Southland College made up of Georgia Taylor, Tori Van De Scott and Angus McFadzien. They have also been invited to July’s Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final. 

New Zealand Young Farmer Board Chair Jessie Waite says this year’s Grand Final is shaping up to be one of the best yet. Now in its 55th year, the title of “FMG Young Farmer of the Year” is held up as the most prestigious farming award in the country.

“We’re starting to get a glimpse of the impressive array of skills and talent coming through with the next generation of young farmers. There’s so much happening right now in the primary sector with science, innovation and new technologies. The future of farming is certainly bright.”

Waite says she’s thankful for the support of volunteers and sponsors who continue to back the event, year after year. 

“The contest wouldn’t be what it is today without them. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes – from coming up with ideas for the competition to supplying the equipment needed on the day and helping with the set-up of the event. We’re so grateful to everyone who has played a part”.

The FMG Young Farmer of the Year Contest is proudly supported by FMG, Ravensdown, WorkSafe, Environmental Protection Authority, Ministry for Primary Industries, Milwaukee, Honda, Lincoln University, Massey University, PTS Logistics, New Holland and Bushbuck. 

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

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