Athol Wins Young Farmer of the Year
Mid Canterbury Farmer Athol New was named the 48th FMG Young Farmer of the Year – after performing strongly across all sections of the country’s leading rural contest.
“I was shocked. I never expected it... but it’s all down to the team I work with. They are so supportive and encourage and inspire me,” he said.
For a lad from Kamo High in Northland – who didn’t come from the traditional farming background – it’s an overwhelming achievement and New was understandably emotional as he accepted the Cloak of Knowledge during the Grand Final Ceremony in Timaru.
New works within the senior leadership team at Purata Farms supplying independent milk company Synlait Milk and leads a team of more than 10 staff.
The 30 year old credited his rise through the dairy industry to his old agriculture teacher at Kamo High, who encouraged him to head to Lincoln University and study an agricultural commerce degree.
New’s win was significant in a year when the dairy industry had its fair share of challenges.
NZ Young Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said New represented the often un-acknowledged high achievers of the primary industry and said he was the embodiment of the wide array of skills those in the industry need to have to succeed.
“This contest showcases the extraordinary depth of talent that we have in the agricultural sector and continues to help progress and discover vital leadership for the sector.
“From Whangarei with no farming background to managing multi-million dollar complex dairy businesses and now winning the FMG Young Farmer of the Year, Athol shows the exciting opportunities in our industry.”
FMG’s Chief Operations Officer Conrad Wilkshire said “Athol’s win is testament to what can be achieved if you’re prepared see yourself - and invest in yourself as a leader.
“Athol’s strong showing in this contest means the real opportunity actually lies in front of him now. He’s set himself a wonderful platform to become a great ambassador for the dairy industry.
“I think his story, his raw ability and now tonight’s success is quite inspirational to be honest – a very deserving winner and a huge asset to the industry. I think we should all be quite excited by what this guy will achieve for agriculture in New Zealand”.
For winning the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Athol took away $80 000 in prizes.
Taking out the prestigious Young Farmer of the Year title was only beginning to sink in for Athol New as he retreated to Waiheke Island for a few days to reflect on what he summed up as a massive achievement. He talked to Annette Scott.
It was Athol New’s first attempt at a Young Farmer of the Year grand final and he had just 10 weeks to prepare.
But the Aorangi regional winner gave it his all.
His all proved good enough to win him the title and with a comfortable 10 points up his sleeve, not that he was expecting it.
In fact, his hope sank deep as he sat through the placings at the awards evening in Timaru.
“I was second or third in every category but didn’t take a win. It was pretty nerve-wracking getting through Saturday evening.
“I didn’t expect from that that I would win so it was a huge surprise when I was named the overall winner. I really couldn’t believe it,” New said.
But with the challenges behind him and a few days to reflect he looked back on what he achieved.
“It’s starting to sink in now,” he said.
“It’s been a massive achievement and recognition of hard work in the (dairy) industry over the past 10 years.”