Fourth-generation custodians win title

The 2019 Bay of Plenty region SFOTY winners Genna Maxwell and Matt Barr.

Major winners of 2019’s Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Matt Barr and Genna Maxwell, believe one strength of their business lies in being fourth-generation custodians of a family legacy, with opportunities for diversification.

The couple are the region’s Share Farmers of the Year – announced at the BOP Dairy Industry Awards annual dinner last month at the TECT Action Centre Pongakawa.

Here Janamjot Singh Ghuman was named 2019’s BOP Dairy Manager of the Year, and Alex Sainty is 2019’s BOP Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Matt and Genna, are lease farmers for Viv Barr, on her 110ha, 410-cow Awakeri property. “Viv is an actively supportive landowner,” they say.

The couple count one of their greatest challenges as one of their biggest achievements also. “Losing dad in 2014 was one of the toughest things we’ve had to live through,” says Matt.  “Mum and I were thrown in the deep end to fill dad’s boots and steer the farming operation. Although it was heartbreakingly tough, we learnt so much and had huge support from our rural community to get where we are today.”

Matt holds a Diploma of Farm Management from Lincoln University and Genna a Bachelor of Law from University of Otago.

“Genna works off-farm as a lawyer and works on-farm in her spare time. Entering as a couple made sense as it was another great way for Genna to integrate her skillset into the business and gain a wider understanding of the farm business operation,” says Matt.  The couple won $9050 in prizes and three merit awards.

Matt and Genna, both aged 31, enjoy the outdoors, working with animals and the diversity each day brings. “You’re not ‘just a farmer’,” says Matt.  “You’re a plumber, drainlayer, mechanic, welder, heavy machinery operator, vet, all-round labourer, human resource manager, financial planner, negotiator, counsellor, cook, cleaner – the list goes on!”

Their future goal is to fulfil their vision of a sustainable, diverse business and a balanced life.

Runners-up in this competition are Jeremy and Melissa Shove, who won $4387 in prizes and four merit awards. They’re contract milkers on Kay and Michael Watkins 116ha Whakatane farm, milking 385 cows. 

Janamjot Singh Ghuman, who is 2019’s BOP Dairy Manager of the Year, came from a farming background in India and became eligible to enter the awards this year due to visa criteria changes.

Janamjot, aged 26, won $6725 in prizes plus two merit awards and is farm manager for Rex and Lesley Brown on their 65ha Te Puke farm, milking 280 cows.

He holds a Diploma in Applied Technology from the Wairakai Institute of Technology and Primary ITO National Certificates in Agriculture Level 4 and 5.

“I’m a technology enthusiast, and I’d like to contribute to the dairy industry through farm-related technologies and innovation.”

Joseph Braybrook, aged 22, was second in this competition, winning $2400 in prizes and one merit award. He’s farm manager for Henry by-de-ley on his 135ha Paengaroa property, milking 400 cows.

Te Puke farm manager Ashley Weld, 23, placed third and won $1575 in prizes. He works on Gerard and Karen Weld’s 64ha farm, milking 180 cows.

Alex Saint, aged 21, who is 2019’s BOP Dairy Trainee of the Year, won $5250 in prizes and two merit awards. He’s assistant manager for Peter Overdevest and Tania Akehurst on their 390-cow, 132ha property at Galatea.

“Entering the awards has enabled me to test my knowledge and understand my strengths and weaknesses and work on them. I’ve proven to myself that I’m more capable and confident than I believed.”

Runner-up in this competition was Thornton herd manager Justin Bell, aged 21, who works for Hayden Power on his 120ha, 400-cow property. He won $1250 in prizes and two merit awards.

The BOP Dairy Industry Awards winners’ field day is on April 8 at 1286 State Highway 30, Awakeri, where Share Farmers of the Year, Matt Barr and Genna Maxwell lease.

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