"New Zealand's Ultimate Rural Challenge inspiring excellence, showcasing innovation and growing human capabilities"
FMG Young Farmer of the Year is the flagship event for New Zealand Young Farmers and is held in high esteem among the rural community, and every year up to 300 contestants battle it out for the top spot.
The idea behind the contest emerged from a quiz show at an agricultural university in California. The show was conducted in a semi-slapstick style with a cow on stage and eventually the idea made its way to New Zealand where it was turned into a successful and prestigious event.
The first Regional Final was held in a small hall at the former Lincoln College and broadcast live on radio. The hall was packed and contestants from throughout Canterbury answered questions about a bemused sheep that was on stage. Practical field activities were later added to the contest to ensure the competition represented all-round farming ability and skills.
The first contest, in 1969, was won by Gary Frazer of Tasman and featured a first prize of a return airfare to Australia and $500 cash. In the second year of the competition a tractor was added to the prize list and sponsorships have continued to grow ever since.
Today the contestants vie for over $300,000 in prizes from a strong family of ten sponsors.
How it works:
District Contest and Skills Day's are the entry level for the contest. Throughout the country 20 District Finals are held between October and December. The top contestants from each District Contest and Skills Day progress through to their local Regional Final which are held from February to April.
The number of contestants who progress through are decided by the region and will usually depend on how many District Contest and Skills Days are held in each Region. The seven top Regional Finalists become the Grand Finalists and will battle it out in July for the title – FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
Contestants will be put through a diverse range of practical, theoretical and technical farming challenges. Each level of the competition combines practical hands on agriculture skills and general knowledge. The level of complexity and difficulty increases as the contestants progress from districts to regionals and finally at the Grand Final.
The Grand Final is a full-on two-day event including the practical day which includes all the hands on competition plus technical elements such as a project, interview and an HR challenge. The contestants must also deliver a convincing speech on a topic given to them the day before. The last challenge is the fast paced quiz where the contestants battle it out in 6 rounds of agricultural and general knowledge questions.