On a Saturday evening in mid-May the winners of the 2016 NZ Dairy Industry Awards were announced in Wellington. 33 finalists competed for the honour of being named the winner in either the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year or Trainee of the Year category. Mark and Jaime Arnold took out Share Farmers of the Year, Thomas Chatfield Dairy Manager and Nicholas Bailey Dairy Trainee. Between them they took home $170,000 of prizes.
None of the three sets of winners come from a dairy farming background, but none can think of a better career choice now, or way of life.
Mark and Jaime Arnold took a massive pay cut when they changed from being a logging contractor and teacher, to a single herd manager's salary, but they've quickly progressed through the system. Thomas Chatfield trained and then worked as a physio in New Zealand and London, before finding himself filling in on a friend's farm in the weekend and loving it so much he took up a full time dairy job nearby. Then for British born Nicholas Bailey, living next door to a dairy farm as he was growing up in Wairarapa, gave him a taste of farming and he went from school into the industry.