High-Calibre Judging Panel Prepares To Find Next National Winner of Ballance Farm Environment Awards


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Pictured: Simon Saunders, Deputy Chair, NZFE Trust and chair of the National Winner judging panel

Picking the National Winner of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is a tough assignment, but the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust has assembled a top team for the job.

This year’s judging panel consists of Jacqueline Rowarth, Professor of Agribusiness, Waikato University, Warwick Catto, Head of Research and Environment, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Chris Kelly, CEO, Landcorp, Paul Lamont, Regional Manager, Rabobank, Jamie Strang, NZFE National Winner Judging Coordinator, and Simon Saunders, Deputy Chair, NZFE Trust and chair of the National Winner judging panel.

The 2013 National Winner and the next holder of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy will be chosen from the nine regional Supreme winners of the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Simon Saunders says judging the National Winner award is far from easy as all the regional winners have already demonstrated great commitment to the values of the awards and made a significant contribution in their region through economic, environmental, community and industry activities.

“All the Supreme winners are doing a fantastic job in terms of their farming skills and their approach to sustainability, so the next step for the judges is to find people that can go out beyond the farm gate and be great ambassadors for New Zealand agriculture.”

Judging the National Winner award is a demanding job for the judges, “but they take the responsibility very seriously and find the whole process thoroughly rewarding”.

Members of the judging panel offer a broad range of skills and experience. With the exception of Chris Kelly, all the current judges were involved in judging last year’s National Winner award.

“Chris is a welcome addition to the judging panel this year and his extensive knowledge of the primary sector will be a great asset to the team.”

The 2013 National Winner will be announced by Hon. Nathan Guy, the Minister for Primary Industries, at NZFE’s National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on June 22.

Prior to the National Showcase, all candidates will be visited on their farms by two of the judges – Jamie Strang and Warwick Catto.

“It’s a great opportunity for Warwick and Jamie to meet the Supreme winners on their home patch, view their farming operation and discuss their farming business,” says Simon.

Before the Showcase the nine Supreme winners will be brought to Hamilton where they will undergo a half hour interview in front of the whole judging panel. During this process the judges will be looking for a number of qualities, including strong communication and leadership skills.

“We know the candidates are going to be passionate and enthusiastic about their own farming operations, so we want to hear their views on New Zealand agriculture and its position in the international marketplace,” says Simon.

“The whole aim is to find an ambassador for New Zealand agriculture. Someone, who, for example, could meet with EU diplomats in Brussels and confidently showcase the strengths of New Zealand farming.”

Last year’s National Winners were North Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith, who recently returned from an industry-backed study trip to Asia.

Tickets for NZFE’s National Sustainability Showcase can be purchased from www.bfea.org.nz

For more information contact Simon Saunders, deputy chair, NZFE Trust, phone 03 248 7246 or email

For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, phone 07 834 0400, .

or visit web www.bfea.org.nz

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