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Southland Sharemilker Winners Pocket $11,000

Southland Sharemilker of the Year winners Matthew and Vanessa Richards took home prizes worth nearly $11,000 at last night's awards dinner at the Invercargill Workingmen's Club.

The Richards won the title as well as the Federated Farmers of New Zealand Inc Leadership Merit Award and Ravensdown Pasture Management Merit Award.

"Our goal is to grow our business as fast as we can to enable us to buy our first farm while still maintaining a balanced lifestyle." "We entered the competition principally to give us an opportunity to really analyse our business," they say.

It is the second season the Richards have been 50:50 sharemilking and also the second time they had entered the competition, run in association with Federated Farmers of New Zealand Inc. They have two children - Bevan, 10, and Tayla-Ann, 6.

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

The Richards will now progress to the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year final to be held in Auckland on May 3, where they will compete for a prize pool of more than $60,000 and the national title.

Second place in the Southland Sharemilker of the Year went to Lance and Wendy Main. The Mains won merit awards for ACC Thinksafe Farm Safety Award, Ecolab Farm Dairy Environment, and Best Financial Management.

Third place went to Craig and Gaewyn Hodsell.

Other Merit Award Winners:

* Bank of New Zealand Business Management and Future Aims - Jeroen and Henriet Schuurmans

* Dairy InSight First Time Entrant - Daniel and Leah Mattsen

* Livestock Improvement Best Herd Records - Marcel and Tracey Aarsen

* Blue Wing Honda ATV Safety - Marcel and Tracey Aarsen

* Terry Bentley Memorial Best Livestock - Marcel and Tracey Aarsen

* Property Presentation - Daniel and Leah Mattsen

* Karen Vreugdenhil Memorial Blended Lifestyle and Career - Gary and Jodie Marlow

* Best Variable Order Sharemilker - Michael Berkers

* Claude Wuest Memorial 4th place by points - Marcel and Tracey Aarsen

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