FMG Young Farmer of the Year title could be heading South

Posted by Nadine Porter on 13 November 2016 | Comments

It looks like a Southerner will be in line to win the FMG Young Farmer of the Year next year following commanding performances from two experienced contenders in the Southern District Contest and Skills Day in the weekend. 

In his last year of competing, 2014 Grand Finalist, 30-year-old Steve Henderson from Waitane Young Farmers was pushed all the way and finished just one point ahead of another experienced campaigner, Nigel Woodhead. 

The battle royal will come to a head at the Otago/Southland Regional Final next February when the two compete against third and fourth place getters, Alex Field and Allen Gregory and four other finalists that will be found in the Otago District Contest and Skills Day to be held soon. 

For Henderson it's all or nothing in his final year of being eligible to compete and he intends to throw everything at it. 

The son of Edendale dairy farmers, he is now share-milking 800 cows on a 300 hectare Invercargill City Council farm.  

A former Menzies College old boy, Henderson is well known in the region for winning the Southland/Otago Dairy Industry Awards Farm Manager of the Year in 2009, and the Share-milker of the Year in 2014. 

He also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Agriculture and is expected to be a huge threat because of his all-round ability should he make the Grand Final. 

However, Woodhead showed that he is equally as capable – with the 28-year-old determined not to be the bridesmaid this time around, following three previous regional finals where he has finished runner up to some outstanding Grand Finalists including 2014 winner Matt Bell. 

But it won't be all smooth sailing for Woodhead who is getting married to NZ Young Farmers Field Officer Leanne Oosthuizen just after the Regional Final. He may also have to put his Toko A and P Show executive committee and Toko Young Farmer treasurer commitments on hold. 

Currently leasing the family sheep and beef farm near Milton, the couple run around 3500 stock units on their 400-hectare property. Previously Woodhead worked at Midlands Seeds in Ashburton for five years following graduating from University with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree. 

Having grown up in a Young Farmers household where his parents were highly active in local clubs and with his Dad competing in the Contest, Woodhead is keen to get to a Grand Final and put an Otago farmer's name on the coveted trophy. 

Third place Alex Field, 23, is originally from a Feilding lifestyle block. He knew he wanted to pursue agriculture after working with his Mum on the neighbouring dairy farm.  

A two-year stint at a tertiary institute saw him gain a Certificate in Agriculture and a Diploma in Rural Business. 

Since then he has spent two years on a Landcorp sheep farm in Ohau and is now working on another Landcorp farm in Te Anau. 

The chairman of the Te Anau club has competed in one previous District Contest and Skills Day and will be studying hard before the Regional Final. 

Twenty-three-year old Allen Gregory finished fourth and is the third finalist to have competed at a regional final before, having finished fifth last year. 

Growing up on a lifestyle block in Gore, Gregory went to University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours. 

Currently he is a farm technician at Mt Linton Station but hopes to be a farm manager in the short term before owning his own farm. 

The vice chairman of Nightcaps Young Farmers and competitions and health and safety manager for Otago Southland regional executive, Gregory was also part of the forth placed Division One Southland rugby team Ohau/Nightcaps. 


How the FMG Young Farmer of the Year works: 

400 contestants will compete in 22 District Contest and Skills Day nation-wide where they can opt to 'Have a Go' which means they cannot progress to the next level – or they can enter competitively. 

56 contestants will compete in seven regional finals from Northern, Waikato-Bay of Plenty, Taranaki-Manawatu, East Coast, Tasman, Aorangi, Otago-Southland from February to April. 

The seven winners of the regional final will go the Grand Final in July 2017 at Manawatu. 

In 49 years, only three females have ever made the Grand Final: 

Denise Brown who placed seventh in 1981 

Louise Collingwood who was RUNNER UP and third place in 2003 and 2001 

Katherine Tucker placed seventh in 2012 

For more information please contact Nadine Porter, Communications Manager on 021 2140703 or email 






Alex Field third place getter2

Southern District Contest and Skills Day third place getter Alex Field