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The 2004 New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year Competition is underway, with a new Chairman and the renewed support of its 10 sponsors.

South Taranaki Sharemilker Damian Roper is the new Chairman and says the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year, which began in its current format in 1989, continues to be the most successful and supported dairy industry competition.

“I've taken the helm of the competition at a good time. We're in a strong position thanks to the continued support of our 10 sponsors and also the hundreds of sharemilkers who enter and volunteer their time each year to participate in the competition.

“This competition is special and unique to New Zealand – just like the sharemilking system,” says Mr Roper, who sharemilks 750 cows at Waverley with his wife Jane.

The sharemilking industry is a major contributor to New Zealand's economy with more than 5000 sharemilkers harvesting about 40% of the country's milk production.

“Sharemilking is an excellent way for young people to progress through the dairy industry. This competition is all about promoting and recognising the excellence within sharemilking.”

Held in association with Federated Farmers of New Zealand Inc, the 2004 competition will be run in 12 regions with the winner of each region progressing to a national final being held in Masterton on May 8, 2004.

Federated Farmers President Tom Lambie says the fact that all sponsors from 2003 have agreed to support the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year for another year reflects the calibre of the competition.

“Participants in Sharemilker of the Year are the lifeblood and the future of the dairy industry and Federated Farmers is proud to be involved with the competition.”

The 2004 sponsors are; Dairy InSight, ACC, Bank of New Zealand, Blue Wing Honda, Dexcel, Ecolab, Fonterra, Livestock Improvement, Ravensdown and RD1.

Ravensdown General Manager Marketing Alan Thomson says Ravensdown is pleased to support the competition as it fits its sponsorship criteria of recognising excellence and transferring information.

“We like to support competitions that acknowledge and reward excellence in farming because we are passionate that all New Zealanders should appreciate the role of farmers in our economy and our way of life.

“Ravensdown also supports events that enable technological transfer and enhance farming's productivity and performance,” Mr Thomson says.

Entries in the 2004 New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year officially open on November 1. They will close on January 20, 2004.

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