As 2019’s regional entrants into the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be focussed on putting their best foot forward during February’s judging events, one Central Plateau farming couple can attest to it being all worth it.
Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos, who won the 2017 Central Plateau Share Farmers of the Year title and were named national runners-up, say entering the awards was one of the best career decisions they have made.
The couple say they grew professionally and personally just from entering.
“You hear that so often from previous entrants, and the truth is, you really do,” they say. “If we could enter again, we probably would!”
The Delos Santos are still share-farming on the same farm where they won the regional title and have increased their herd size to 370. “We are about to embark on our next adventure and will be milking more cows.”
“We certainly give credit for that progression to the Dairy Industry Awards. We learned that it’s a lot easier to deal with bankers and potential farm owners/consultants with the knowledge we gained from the DIAs.”
This year, the couple are involved with the Central Plateau regional committee as regional managers and are enjoying being able to encourage the next wave of entrants coming through. “
This is our way of giving back to the awards and it is amazing to be involved in what will be a memorable event to future winners,” says Carlos.
“We know what it’s like first-hand to start from nothing. We literally worked from the ground up, and we like to share and encourage other entrants to do the same thing.”
“We knew just by entering, that you got all these goody bags and vouchers and if you do a bit better then you start getting some serious prizes.
“In the past, we would say we want to own a farm but we never really had a plan in place to achieve that ownership. Entering the Dairy Industry Awards made us put everything in writing and work it out.”
“We now have a clear path on how we are going to get there, what we need to do now and what we need to do in three years’ time.”
The Delos Santos say the awards also made them realise just how important their family is, enabling them to prioritise their children and the time they spent on them. “Growing your business is one thing, being able to spend time with our three little children even though we are busy, priceless!” says Bernice.
The awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, and Ravensdown along with industry partners DairyNZ and Primary ITO.
“When you are farming, it’s easy to think you got it all sussed,” says Carlos. “Entering Share Farmer of the Year meant we sat down and went through everything in detail to find out where we were doing great and where we can improve. We certainly went outside our comfort zone.”
The Central Plateau regionals winners for 2019 will be announced at a Regional Awards Dinner on March 14. For tickets or more information, see: www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz