Taranaki couple win Share Farmers of the Year award

By Brad Markham

Johanna and Dion Bishell with their Honda Health and Safety Award.
Johanna and Dion Bishell with their Honda Health and Safety Award.

Taranaki's Share Farmers of the Year have won a swag of accolades at the national final of the prestigious Dairy Industry Awards earlier this month.

Dion and Johanna Bishell, who 50/50 sharemilk 470 cows at Manaia, placed third in the competition, winning $13,000 in prizes.

The Bishells won the Honda Farm Safety and Health Award, the Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award and the coveted Westpac Business Performance Award.

Judges said the couple had outstanding policies and procedures across their whole farm operation.

Environmental issues were a strong focus for all finalists.

"They had some fantastic systems to manage dairy farm effluent and were aware of the public perception around these issues," said judge Neil Gray. "We need to showcase best practice and carefully monitor our systems to ensure we have sustainable practices," said Johanna Bishell.

"Sharemilkers need to work alongside farm owners to set up good environmental systems. It's a partnership, as we are all custodians of the land."

The Bishells said the national final in Auckland was an amazing experience.

Almost 550 people from across New Zealand attended the event at Sky City on Saturday, May 6.

Taranaki's Dairy Manager of the Year, Shaun Neal, won the DeLaval Livestock Management Award.

The 24 year old is in his second season managing a 325-cow farm at Auroa.

The high calibre of finalists in the Dairy Manager category made judging difficult.

"You could throw a blanket over the top six or seven, the marks were so close," said judge Richard Kyte.

There were several noticeable trends showing with the finalists, including care of staff and the desire to give back to the industry.

"Some of the finalists are new managers and they're already wanting to support other people into the dairy industry and to promote it as a career pathway," he said.

Canterbury's Christopher and Siobhan O'Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year.

Manawatu's Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was announced the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

- Stratford Press

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