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Sharemilking Paves Way To Farm Ownership For Otago Winners

Otago regional Sharemilkers of the year Peter & Virginia O'Neill have used the sharemilking system to achieve their goal of farm ownership.

Last night they were announced winners of the Otago regional competition. They also scooped four merit awards - the Livestock Improvement Best Herd Records Award, the Shand Thompson Best Financial Records Award, the Rod Snell Memorial Best Farm Records Award, and the Federated Farmers of NZ Inc. Leadership award. In all, they took home prizes worth more than $12000.

The couple decided to go sharemilking because they saw more opportunity in dairying than in other types of farming.

"Sharemilking has allowed us to take our business to the next level," they say.

"The system has let us go from waged workers to land owners."

The O'Neill's are set to move onto a 157 hectare farm on the Taieri in a partnership as equity farmers. They will Sharemilk on the property and hope to buy the property outright in the future.

This season they have been 50:50 sharemilking 530 cows in Milton for Milburn Dairy Farm Limited. They have two young children, Brendan and Bridget, and are active in the community with Plunket, Rotary and Collie Club.

Peter and Virginia say that their goal is to build their business to a self management stage while enjoying the sharemilking lifestyle with their family.

The NZ Sharemilker of the year competition is run in association with Federated Farmers of NZ Inc. and boasts national prizes worth more than $60'000. The O'Neill's will now progress to the final to be held in Auckland on May 3, where they will compete for the grand prize.

ACC, Blue Wing Honda, Bank of New Zealand, Fonterra, Livestock Improvement, Ravensdown, Ecolab, RD1, Dairy InSight and Dexcel sponsor the competition.

Second prize went to Duncan Wells of East Tairei, who nearly $5000 in prizes. Mr Wells also won the Ecolab Farm Dairy Environment Award.

Third place went to Matthew Roberts & Kathryn Whittle of Tapanui who also won the Dairy InSight Best First Time Entrant merit award, the Gallagher Power Fence Systems Best Presented Farm Award and the Bank of New Zealand Business Management & Future Aims Award. They won more than $4000 in total.

Other Merit Award Winners:

* Ravensdown Pasture Management Award: Russell Croy & Lisa Nutsford

* Agrispray & Equipment Award: Vance & Marrianne Gemmell

* Reliance Stockfood: Colin & Glennice Radford

* Balclutha Machinery Best Kept Farm Machinery: Robert & Katrina Kelly

* Otago Sharemilker of the Year Committee Encouragement Award: Richard & Allison O'Neill * Otago Regional Council- Dairy Sustainability Award: Kevin Wilson & Anna Campbell

* Telford Rural Polytechnic Best Contract Milker Award: Kevin Wilson & Anna Campbell

* ACC Thinksafe Sharemilker Award: Vance & Marrianne Gemmell & Simon & Beck Riordan

* Honda ATV Award: Vance & Marrianne Gemmell and Rob & Katrina Kelly

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