The role people play on farms in helping keep them sustainable and profitable has been recognised with Bayleys rural real estate throwing its support behind the country’s most prestigious, long standing environmental awards.
Bayleys national country manager Duncan Ross said the company’s decision to sponsor a People Award for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a natural step for the company, having already sponsored the same award at a regional level in Canterbury last year.
The winner was David Hislop, who with his wife Brenda own a 440ha dairy unit in North Canterbury. The couple were also recognised as the regional winners in the competition.
“The Hislops had a number of overseas workers on their farm, and David has become a leader in terms of how he looks after his staff, nurtures them and sees them develop on a personal and professional level,” said James Ryan, general manager of New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, the body overseeing the competition.
The announcement from Bayleys comes as entries open for this year’s competition, and Ryan said he was anticipating a record number of diverse entries into the tightly competed awards.
“We now have Horticulture New Zealand as a strategic partner, recognising that this sector is going to play an increased and significant role in our economy in coming years.”
This has been reflected in the variety of entries received, and this year’s winners were organic kiwifruit orchardists Mark and Catriona White from Opotiki.
The couple matched strong organic values and practices to exceptional production and fruit quality from what they founded from dairy farm land.
“Traditionally the competition has been stronger in the sheep and beef sector, but the interest we get now reflects a wider diversity of growers and farmers keen to participate,” Ryan said.
“The interest in the competition now reflects a wide diversity of growers and farmers keen to participate.”
He said the decision by Bayleys to support the national competition with an award focusing on people underscored a key ethos of the awards - to help identify and develop future leaders in the farming sector.
“Farmers tend to learn from what their neighbours are doing, so we are identifying some leaders that others will look to for ideas and to learn from.
“At the same time good farmers and potential leaders are often not accustomed to getting feedback and attention. The competition and advice from Trust judges helps them to take those first steps in a leadership journey.”
Past winners are increasingly appearing in industry leadership roles, for example Richard and Diane Kidd, supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland regional Farm Environment Awards and national winners in 2016.
As farms consolidate and get larger, staff inevitably come to play a vital part in helping maintain and build on the sustainable goals established by farm owners.
“Having staff on board is becoming more important than ever, you simply cannot run most modern farms on your own, so the ability to have a sustainable vision, and to communicate that vision to those staff, is critical,” Ryan said.
Increasingly, farm sustainability and environmental awareness is becoming a draw card for attracting young staff in a sector in need of attracting the next generation to the land.
“Increasingly, farm sustainability and environmental awareness is a draw card for attracting the next generation to the land.”
Duncan Ross said sponsoring the People Award fits well with the competition’s sustainability emphasis.
“Ultimately sustainability is all about people.
“You can have all the policies and practices possible on a farm, but they will only work if you have the right people there to carry them out. Sponsoring this award helps identify those people particularly good at inspiring and leading on that pathway to sustainability.
“This is something we look to in our own business, identifying and developing the best leaders in the rural real estate sector and building on our leading service levels with an eye to the future”