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Relationships key for award winners
Ashburton Guardian, Canterbury  26 Mar 2018
Supplements - Page 8 - 764 words - ID 935392931 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 576.00cm2

The winners of the 2018 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year competition believe strong relationships with all the people they deal with are the key to their successful business.

Simon and Hilary Vallely were announced winners of the region's Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual dinner held in Invercargill last week. The region's other big winners were Jaime McCrostie, who was named the 2018 Southland-Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Simone Smail, the 2018 Southland-Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Vallelys, both aged 31, are 50:50 sharemilking 475 cows on David and Valerie Stafford's 160ha farm in Gore.

They won $20,010 in prizes.

They believe the different strengths and interests each other brings to their working relationship makes their business stronger. "We also have an excellent relationship with our farm owners, and we really value the relationship," say the couple.

"Trust is the key when making on-farm decisions as the owners live at the other end of the country," Simon said.

"We are passionate about what we do. We care for our staff, environment, cows and our farm owners' asset." The couple both hold a Bachelor of Commerce (agriculture) from Lincoln University and have entered the awards twice previously.

"One of the benefits of entering is that we have been able to cross-examine our business and learn about ourselves," Hilary said.

They both grew up on farms and wanted to continue in a rural career. "We're passionate about dairy farming and could see a pathway to grow while being self-employed relatively young," they said.

"We're proud of the record production results we've achieved and we love seeing our animals looking great and being well-fed and happy.

continued on next page from page 8 "We're also proud of purchasing a 72ha property, which we farm in conjunction with sharemilking, and of surviving a low payout, which was a challenging time with minimal bank security." Future farming goals for the couple include consolidating debt, owning a 500-cow farm by 2020 and improving per cow production to 100 per cent body weight.

Women were represented strongly in the 2018 Southland-Otago Dairy Manager of the Year competition, achieving both first and second places, with 32-year-old McCrostie, who manages a 370ha, 930-cow farm at Winton, prevailing.

"I love cows and I love being outside working with stock. I love the multidisciplinary challenges on-farm and that there is always something new to be learning," she said.

McCrostie believes one of the benefits of entering the awards is that the process highlights areas for improvement. "It also forces you to consolidate all your farm data and help benchmark, reflect and justify decisions." McCrostie holds a Degree in Physical Education and a Diploma in Agribusiness Management and was previously a programme co-ordinator for Project K with the Foundation for Youth Development. She still gives of her time to the Family Works Big Buddy programme.

She aims to move into an overseer role to make the most of her organisational skills, her developing management skills and her expanding knowledge around human resources and health and safety.

Trainee of the Year Smail entered the awards to meet like-minded people who are passionate and want to progress in the industry. "I wanted to challenge myself," she said. "You never lose, you either win or learn." This is the 24-year-old's third full season dairy farming, and she is currently herd manager on a 780-cow, 310ha Invercargill City Council farm.

It was while she was studying for her Certificate in Veterinary Nursing that she discovered her passion for working with cows. "I have always loved being outdoors and love being able to be hands-on and working with cows," she said. "I hope to continue to increase my knowledge and keep progressing through the industry." The Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners field day will be held on April 11 at 86 Charlton Siding Road RD 2 Gore, where the Vallelys sharemilk. McCrostie and Smail will also give presentations. Further details on the winners and the field day can be found at www.dairyindustryawards.

The 2018 Canterbury North Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner was held in Christchurch on Saturday night.

Unfortunately an embargoed list of the winners was not received by Dairy Focus before this issue went to the printers. However, we congratulate all the winners and placegetters on their achievements.

Caption Text:
All smiles after winning their respective categories at the 2018 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year awards dinner are (from left) Simone Smail, Simon and Hilary Vallely, and Jaime McCrostie. PHOTO SUPPLIED

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