Shared goals, driving ambition and plenty of hard graft have paid off for a Wellsford couple who took out the 2019 New Zealand Dairy Industry Share Farmers of the Year Award last month.
Colin and Isabella Beazley beat off competition from 10 other regions to win not only the national title, but four other merit awards and prizes worth $52,000 at the awards dinner at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium.
The Beazleys, both aged 31, are 50/50 sharemilkers for Neil Jones and Wendy Crow-Jones, milking 330 Friesian and Friesian cross cows on their farm east of Te Hana.
This was the third time the couple had entered the awards and, despite placing third last year, said the win was completely unexpected.
“We went down with the idea of winning one merit award and maybe a place and were happy with that, so to get four and then win overall was shocking,” Colin said. “We were very surprised.”
There was more to the finals than the awards evening itself, with a five-day programme of activities, events and networking opportunities that included a visit to Parliament, a tour of Westpac Stadium and a dinner with Richie McCaw.
“That week is nearly as valuable for the people you meet as the prizes. You meet all the really important people in sponsor companies and lots of other contacts,” Colin said. “There were lots of teambuilding activities and it was great for making connections.
“Awards are very much about networking and using those contacts to grow your business.”
The awards process also gave them access to expert advice from a wide range of industry experts, Isabella added.
“There were three different judges in each of the three rounds, they all critique your business and share expert advice,” she said. “It’s benchmarking, as well – we want to see where we’re placed, and make sure we’re at the same levels as others in our industry.”
The couple met at university and have been sharefarming in Wellsford for the past six years, with plans to add another 200 cows to their herd.
“We have always been driven to get as far as we can as quickly as we can. We want to keep growing our business and growing our lives,” Isabella said. “We’ve got a three year term here, then will look at some of our options. Whatever happens, we won’t be leaving the area. This has become our home, and we’re proud to call this area home.”
Awards judges praised the Beazleys for their teamwork, pasture management and use of technology, including using a drone, not only to keep an eye on the cows, but to deliver a coffee to a staff member in a remote part of the farm. Judge Jacqui Groves from Westpac said Colin and Isabella had “awesome” relationships with people and groups in the local community, displayed strong family values and cared for their staff.
“We were really impressed at the ‘Three Shh’s’ rule – all staff need to be home by 5pm and have had a shower, a shave and a sh*t by the time the 6pm news is on,” Jacqui said.
The Beazleys said there was one drawback to winning awards – it takes them and their two young children three times as long to get round Fieldays now.
“Everyone seems to know us even if we don’t always know who they are,” Colin said. “People want to have a good natter about our farm, and all the suppliers are keen to catch up. Ninety per cent of that is through the awards, creating that profile.”