Joseph Watts named East Coast FMG Young Farmer of the Year

Posted by Erin Speedy on 1 March 2020 | Comments

History has repeated itself at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year East Coast Regional Final, with Joseph Watts taking out the title.

It’s the second year in a row the 29 year old PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative has been crowned East Coast FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Greytown contract milker Hamish Hammond, 29, came in second place for the region, also for the second year in a row.

Third place East Coast FMG Young Farmer of the Year (FMG YFOTY) was awarded to first time competitor and veterinarian, Georgina Campbell.

Joseph Watts has taken home $12,000 in prizes, and said he was excited to get another shot at Grand Final after coming runner up to James Robertson in 2019 by just half a point.

Watts and Hammond were neck and neck right throughout the day, with only a few points separating the two in the end.

With the contest based around five strainers - technology, environment, people, food and innovation – finalists who earned the top points in each strainer also won awards.

Watts took out two strainers, technology and food, meanwhile Hammond also took out two strainers – innovation and environment.

Napier based rural valuer, Cameron Walker, won the strainer for people.  

The eight regional finalists competed in eight modules and battled it out in two time and points races – head to heads - at The Central Hawke’s Bay&P Show Grounds, Waipukurau on Saturday.

The two head to heads involved building and fitting a wooden gate, putting together a trough fitting, administering first aid to an ‘injured child’, wood chopping, pruning trees, pushing wool bales and more.

A written exam, as well as the famous FMG Young Farmer of the Year (FMG YFOTY) buzzer quiz also tested the regional finalist’s knowledge.

Being a 2019 Grand Finalist, Watts’ said was a strength, knowing where to pick up points.

“Although it’s a farming competition, I’m able to feedback on some of my sporting career as well and work out how to actually win. It might not be in the prettiest way or the best way but it comes down to amounting as many points at the end of the day.”

The former professional squash player was ranked 169th on the World Circuit in his prime.

Hammond was also a former professional athlete, competing internationally in triathlons across the world, cracking the top five in New Zealand for a half ironman.

Both Watts and Hammond were in the Massey University Sports Academy together whilst studying their respective degrees.

Hammond said he’s disappointed to have come second.

“I like competing, I like learning and I like farming. This is a Young Farmers competition, it’s good to practice farming and I’m getting pretty good at it so I’d like to think I’d do well,” he said.

The Massey University Alumni studied a Bachelor, Honours and Masters in Ag-Commerce.

Now a contract milker in Greytown, he’s based on the 6th generation family farm milking 610 cows with a beef block on the side running 200 stock units.

He said he loves competing so won’t rule out another competition, but the busy farm could hold him back.

“It’s trying to fit that in alongside what we actually do on farm and that’s the priority really, farming,” he said.

For Joseph Watts, the road to Grand Final starts now.

He grew up as a city boy in Palmerston North and studied a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at Massey University.

He met his wife Lucy at University, who introduced him to the rural lifestyle.

They moved to Raetihi after graduating where he learnt to shear and spent two years in the sheds.

Discovering a passion for agronomy, he studied a post graduate diploma in Agricultural Science and Rural Studies.

He’s now been with PGG Wrightson for close to four years and is committed to winning FMG Young Farmer of the Year for 2020.

“You can do all the preparation in the world but it depends what they throw at you on the day, how it falls. Generally the cream rises to the top but there’s certainly some luck to play with there,” he said.  

He also wants to use the pedestal as Grand Finalist to put a spotlight on the agrifood sector.

“That’s definitely something I want to improve on from last year, along with half a point,” he laughed.

Two 2020 Grand Finalists - Northern’s Lisa Kendall and Taranaki Manawatu’s James Lawn – are also previous Grand Finalists and came 4th and 5th place respectively in 2017.

First time competitor Mitchel Hoare will represent Waikato Bay of Plenty at the Grand Final.

“I’m under no illusion it’s going to be easy, there’s some good competitors to come out of the South Island yet. I’ll just be putting in whatever work I can from this point on it’s a constant process towards that final,” Watts said.  

Three more Regional Finals will be held in the South Island over the next five weeks.



-          $1,000 cash reward from FMG

-          A $1,500 Ravensdown package

-          WorkSafe leadership course valued at $4,000

-          Honda XR150 farm bike

-          $1,000 New Holland voucher

-          3 year subscription to zero harm farms



1ST – Joseph Watts

2ND – Hamish Hammond

3RD – Georgina Campbell


People – Cameron Walker

Environment – Hamish Hammond

Innovation – Hamish Hammond

Technology – Joseph Watts

Food – Joseph Watts