New Zealand's Ultimate Rural Challenge
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 around 200 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 $100,000 in prizes from a strong family of eleven sponsors.
How it works:
District Contests are the entry-level for the contest. You must be a registered Young Farmers Member to enter (click here to find out more information on how to become a member). Throughout the country 16 District Finals are held between October and November. The top contestants from each District Contest progress through to their local Regional Final which is 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 top seven Regional Finalists become the Grand Finalists and will battle it out in July for the title of FMG Young Farmer of the Year.
Grand Final 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 an innovation project, interview and an human resources challenge. The contestants must also deliver a convincing speech on a topic given to them. The last challenge is the fast-paced quiz where the contestants battle it out in six rounds of agricultural and general knowledge questions.