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Will it be second time lucky for this Wairarapa farmer? – NZ Young Farmers

A 22-year-old Wairarapa farmer is hoping it’s second time lucky as he prepares to outsmart his competition at the upcoming East Coast FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final.

Archie Woodhouse is competing at the two-day contest, held from 22-23 March at Solway Showgrounds in Masterton.

It is the fifth 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.

Woodhouse is among more than 180 FMG Young Farmer, FMG Junior Young Farmer and AgriKidsNZ contestants from the East Coast region (encompassing Hawke’s Bay, the Wairarapa and Gisborne districts), who have put their names forward for a shot at victory in the East Coast Regional Final. After placing second at last year’s Tasman Regional Final, Woodhouse says he’s now moved to his family sheep and beef farm near Wairarapa and is “keen to give it another crack”, albeit in a different region.

“It was extremely close last year. It would be awesome to get the win this time around, but at the end of the day my mindset going into it is about having fun and meeting new people.”

Woodhouse recently completed his studies at Lincoln University in Christchurch, and now has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a master’s degree in agribusiness under his belt. This year, he’s keen to put his knowledge to the test.

“I think the cool thing about the competition is the breadth of it, there’s different avenues to allow different people and their skills to shine. It allows people to find their niche, and if they’re good at something, it gives them an opportunity to excel at that.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re on-farm or working in agriculture professionally, there’s a challenge for everyone and that’s what I really love about it.”

Convenor Ash Greer says when it comes to farming the East Coast is known for its variety, and the challenges are designed to reflect that.

“We’ve got everything from grapes to horticulture. There’s also seed production and pockets of dairy farming. It really does have a bit of everything.”

Greer says farmers on the East Coast have been doing it tough since Cyclone Gabrielle – the effects of which are still lingering.

“It’s been really hard on them, so this event is something positive we can bring to the region to celebrate our young farmers, come together and have a great time.”

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 New Zealand 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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