The 2018 FMG Young Farmer of the Year winner Logan Wallace from South Otago

Contest to undergo major overhaul

by Kent Caddick

New Zealand’s longest-running agricultural contest, the FMG Young Farmer of the Year, is set to undergo a major overhaul.

The revamp is designed to entice more women to enter the iconic contest and to help showcase the country’s food story.

As part of the significant changes, the TeenAg competition will be rebranded the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year.

“We’ve just celebrated our 50th anniversary, which is an amazing achievement,” said Hinds dairy farmer and NZ Young Farmers Contest board member, Cole Groves.

“However, if we don’t make some major changes now, this contest won’t be relevant in another 50 years.”

The changes were outlined in a new strategy unveiled recently.

Contest organisers say they are keen to tap into innovation and technology being used and developed by sponsors.

Mr Groves said they would like to inject a bit of excitement and unpredictability into the contest through the use of innovation.

Among the changes awards for the highest-scoring competitor in each of the five challenges, from agri-business to agri-skills, are being scrapped.

“They’ll be replaced with new awards assessing contestants’ skills and knowledge across innovation, food, people, environment and technology,” Groves said.

“We’re hoping the changes encourage more women to give the contest a go, and we want to expand contestants’ knowledge beyond just fencing and identifying different types of fertiliser.”

The two competitions designed to get school students excited about opportunities in the agri-food sector are also changing.

The TeenAg competition will be renamed the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year although competitors will still compete in teams of two.

Mr Groves said the younger competitors idolise the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contestants.

“Having AgriKidsNZ, the FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year and FMG Young Farmer of the Year all part of the same event will help lift the prestige of the students’ contests,” he said.

The changes will start rolling out at regional finals across the country early next year with the 2019 FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final scheduled to be held in Hawke’s Bay in July.