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From office to milking shed, Waikato farmer eyes up prestigious title

A Waikato marketer-turned-dairy farmer is ready to prove it’s never too late to try something new as he prepares to throw his hat in the ring for one of New Zealand’s most prestigious farming competitions.

29-year-old Morrinsville-born Robin Buser is competing at the highly anticipated Waikato Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final. The two-day contest will be held from 5-6 April at Kerepehi Domain, in Kerepehi.

It is the sixth regional competition in the race to find New Zealand’s top young farmers for 2024. Seven regional finals are taking place across Aotearoa between February and April, with only the top contestants qualifying for a spot at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final, being held in Hamilton in July.

Buser is among over 140 AgriKids, FMG Junior Young Farmer and FMG Young Farmer contestants from across the central North Island ready to shoot their shot for a victory in this year’s Waikato Bay of Plenty regional contest.

Once a marketing executive for Fieldays, Buser turned his hand to farming a few years ago after his father-in-law asked for his help on the family farm near Morrinsville.

“I had a big student loan at the time, so at first, I thought no way. Then one of my mentors said to me something that stuck. She asked me: ‘wouldn’t you rather wake up and do what you love each day?’”

“I gave it a year. The idea was if I hated it I’d go back to marketing. Now, it’s my fourth season farming and I love it. I’m here to stay.”

Milking 200 cows is all part of a day’s work for Buser, who last year convened Season 55 Waikato Bay of Plenty Regional Final which won Best Regional Final at the New Zealand Young Farmers National Awards.

Even with his behind-the-scenes experience, Buser says he isn’t one to get overconfident.

“The modules will be different to last year, because you never really know what to expect.

“I’ve seen a few of the names competing, and they’re the best of the best from the region. There’s no doubt I’ll be kept on my toes.”

Convenor Kendal Buchanan says that while the Waikato is known for dairy, the regional contest will have a taste of every industry across the food and fibre sector.

“There’s a bit of everything in there, so we’ll need a well-rounded competitor.”

Contestants will compete in one of three categories depending on their age. Primary school students, some as young as eight, enter the AgriKidsNZ contest, while high school students, working in teams of two, are eligible for the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year competition. Those who’ve left school compete alone for a shot at rural stardom in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

NZ Young Farmers Chief Executive Lynda Coppersmith says it’s encouraging to see a high number of entries into this year’s competition, with 43% of contestants being first timers.

“This is the 56th season of FMG New Zealand Young Farmers and it’s shaping up to be one of our best yet with many new faces including a large number of primary students entering our AgriKidsNZ competition. It just goes to show the future of farming is in good hands.”

The FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series would not be possible without its family of sponsors: FMG, Ravensdown, WorkSafe, Ministry for Primary Industries, Milwaukee, Woolworths, Honda, Lincoln University, Massey University, PTS Logistics, New Holland and Bushbuck.

 

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