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Young Farmers prepare to take over Waikato for Grand Final

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

New Zealand’s best young farmers are pledging to ‘leave it all on the table’ as they prepare to battle it out at one of the country’s most prestigious farming contests.  

The FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final kicks off in Hamilton on Thursday, July 11 and runs over three days. With hundreds of spectators watching on, seven grand finalists will race against the clock (and each other) in a series of high-pressure challenges designed to test them on their quick thinking, practical know-how and farming skills.  

Up for grabs is the title of ‘FMG Young Farmer of The Year’ and over $90,000 worth of prizes. 

Pictured above: The Seven FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalists: Archie Woodhouse, Zac Thomas, Dennis Main, George Dodson, Caleb Eady, Zayn Jones and Gareth McKerchar.

14 FMG Junior Young Farmers of the Year teams will also compete for a national title, along with 63 AgriKidsNZ competitors from across Aotearoa. 

Grand Final co-convenor Nicole Cooper says they’re expecting the competition to be fierce.  

“These contestants are the best young farmers in the country, so we’re not going to be making it easy. To win, they’ll have to show they have a wealth of farming knowledge, demonstrated by their ability to navigate the series of tasks thrown at them,” says Nicole. 

 But Nicole won’t give anything away. 

 “It’s important our Grand Finalists brush up on a broad range of skills – because they won’t know what’s coming until it hits them.” 

 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 event, while popular with contestants, is also a fan favourite. The 2023 Grand Final in Timaru attracted hundreds of spectators, providing a substantial boost to the local economy over three days. 

“We’re really looking forward to showcasing the mighty Waikato to the rest of the country. While we’re renowned for our dairy farming we’ve recently been branching out into other areas, including horticulture, blueberries and kiwifruit,” says Nicole.  
New Zealand Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says this year’s Grand Final contestants come from a wide range of backgrounds – so picking a winner is anyone’s guess. 

“We’ve got sheep and beef farmers, a fencing contractor, an agri-manager and even a builder – it just goes to show the depth and variety of skills in Aotearoa and highlights the diversity of the food and fibre sector today.” 

YF Grand Finalists 2024-94Grand Final Co-Convenors Nicole Cooper and Dannielle Imlig

Coppersmith says a key highlight for her is watching the next generation of young farmers compete. 

“The AgriKids participants represent primary schools across the country. Their knowledge, skills and passion for the industry is impressive and certainly leaves us excited for the future of farming.” 

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. 

The seven finalists competing for the title of FMG Young Farmer of the Year are: 

•    Caleb Eady from Whangārei, representing Northern.  
•    Archie Woodhouse from South Wairarapa, representing East Coast.  
•    Dennis Main from Piarere, representing Waikato Bay of Plenty. 
•    Zayn Jones from Opiki, representing Taranaki Manawatu. 
•    George Dodson from Canterbury, representing Tasman. 
•    Gareth McKerchar from Pleasant Point, representing Aorangi. 
•    Zac Thomas from Gore, representing Otago Southland. 

For more event information, please click here.

Written by
NZ Young Farmers

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