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Sharpshooter wins at Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards

Sharpshooter wins at Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards
Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Award winners Monique Radford, Jaspreet Singh and Alan da Veiga. Photo supplied

It was glitz and glamour at the Year of the Dragon-themed Canterbury/ North Otago Dairy Industry Awards, held in Ashburton on March 20, where an ex-Brazilian army sniper won the region's 2024 Share Farmer of the Year.

Alan da Veiga moved to New Zealand ten years ago and was new to farming when he arrived.

Da Veiga, who is contract milking on Dairy Holdings Ltd's 260-hectare, 1000-cow Leeston property, describes his career pivot to dairy farming as finding his passion.

"Since I began working in the dairy industry, I have never 'worked' again.

"I love that grass is converted into milk to feed people,' he says.

A first-time entrant, da Veiga won $10,000 in prizes plus six merit awards.

Jaspreet Singh, a farm manager on Farmright Ltd's 382-hectare, 1415-cow property at Ashburton, won the 2024 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year category.

Singh, who won $6500 plus two merit awards and came third in the same category in 2021, says he was excited with the result.

"I've worked pretty hard for the last couple of years, but I also want to thank my farm team. We all do things together."

Singh originally came to New Zealand to study business management, but with a farming background and seeing opportunities, he decided to pursue a career in dairy farming.

"Farming has lots of challenges, but I'm proud that I have progressed to manager of a large-scale farm from the beginning with no experience."

Singh thanked his employer, Farmright Ltd, for 'giving him the tools to improve'.

"I'm going to give it a good shot at the nationals, but I still want to do the same thing I do every day, to farm better. That's my goal."

The 2024 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year award went to Monique Radford, a first-time entrant and Ashburton farmer.

Radford, a herd manager on Leighton and Michelle Pyes' 241-hectare, 900-cow property, collected $6,500 in prizes and two merit awards.

Radford said she wasn't expecting to even make it into the top six when entering.

"It was so competitive this year, so it's an awesome feeling to have won it.

"I'm proud of myself."

Radford said she had been nervous about the skills part of the competition, but the judges put her at ease, and she finished the day feeling confident. The interview process also allowed her to revisit her goals.

"It was good to see how far I have come since I started working here and how much my life has changed since then."

Radford is taking some time off the farm to enjoy a well-earned trip to Rarotonga before she returns to focus on preparing for the national finals.

"Once I'm back, I'll get stuck into it, start practising my practical skills again, and ask my manager, Hamish, to help me with some other things I might not be so confident about."

The national award titles will be announced at the Dairy Industry Awards National Gala Dinner on May 11 in Queenstown.

Canterbury/ North Otago Dairy Industry Merit Awards:

Share Farmer Merit Awards:

  • DairyNZ – People and Culture Award Alan da Veiga
  • Ecolab Total Farm Hygiene Award Alan da Veiga
  • Federated Farmers Leadership Award Myfanwy Alexander
  • Honda Farm Safety, Health and Biosecurity Award Alan da Veiga
  • LIC – Animal Wellbeing, Recording and Productivity Award Alan da Veiga
  • Meridian Environmental Sustainability Award Wilma Dickey
  • Ravensdown Sustainable Pasture Award Alan da Veiga
  • ASB Business Performance Award Alan da Veiga
  • JEH Grazing & Livestock Ltd Emerging Talent Award Myfanwy Alexander

Dairy Manager Merit

  • DeLaval Livestock Management Award William Gard
  • Fonterra Dairy Management Award Jaspreet Singh
  • GrainCorp Feeds NZ Environmental Sustainability Award George Dodson
  • FarmRight Pasture & Feed Management Award Lauren McConnachie
  • Dairy Holdings Ltd People & Leadership Award George Dodson
  • CowManager Planning & Financial Management Award Jaspreet Singh
  • Vetlife Emerging Talent Award Kieran Gannon

Dairy Trainee Merit Awards:

  • DairyNZ Practical Skills Award Monique Radford
  • TH Enterprises Ltd Emerging Talent Award Todd Coull
  • FMG Farming Knowledge Award William Renall
  • Craigmore Communication & Industry Involvement Award Monique Radford

by Claire Inkson