After some 30 years of recognising the highest achievers in the South Island’s farming community, the Lincoln University Foundation has decided to call time on the South Island Farmer of the Year competition.
Instead, it will shift its resources to increasing scholarship opportunities for young farmers and other agriculturalists to study at Lincoln University.
Chair Ben Todhunter said today the Foundation was moving from “identifying farming excellence to creating farming excellence.”
“The Lincoln University Foundation’s primary goal is to advance agriculture and related interests in New Zealand’s primary industries,” Todhunter said. “For the past 30 years we’ve been doing that with a combination of scholarships and study grants, and through the annual South Island Farmer of the Year competition, which has had focus on recognising and rewarding existing excellence and sharing that with others to inspire improved performance across the sector.
“The competition has been a wonderful medium to promote farming excellence, and we are very proud of what it has achieved. But the Foundation now wants to focus more on the scholarship side of our programme to achieve our purpose of growing excellence in New Zealand’s primary industries.
“We believe the most gain will be through increasing the number of young people who can enter university to study agriculture and bring that knowledge into New Zealand’s primary industries.”
The final South Island Farmer of the Year event will be the 2016 winner’s field day at Fairlie on 3 April and Todhunter said the Foundation intends to make sure it is a celebration of all that has been achieved in the past 30 years. All former winners and Foundation trustees will be invited to participate in what he predicts will be a very special field day.
“It is very fitting that 2016 competition winners Neil and Lyn Campbell will be hosting the final winner’s field day,” Todhunter said. “They are the very essence of what the South Island Farmer of the Year competition has been about since its inception.
“The Campbells are extremely efficient, incredibly flexible and adaptive farmers.
“Throughout their career they have been quick to adapt the most modern tools to create the systems that allow them to generate the most profit at the most effective point of time.
“Lyn and Neil collect and analyse hard data to compare and choose between the different enterprises on the farm. That’s something I think emerging young farmers need to learn and there’s no doubt academic study is a great foundation for that.”