For Immediate Release
19 November 2013
North Island rural consultants win Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards
A “rock star” of farm consulting who shares his success with his clients has taken one of two top prizes at the
inaugural Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.
John Cannon, of Hastings, won the Farmax Consultant of the Year for the North Island. While AgFirst Hawkes Bay
consultant Ben Harker was named Farmax Emerging Consultant of the Year for all of New Zealand.
They each were awarded their titles at the Farmax Consultants’ Conference in Rotorua on November 19.
The awards, sponsored by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries, honour the top North and South
Island consultants who use the pastoral support software in their businesses. The South Island winner will be announced
at Farmax’s South Island conference next week.
The award is a $4000 prize including funds for further education in pasture-based production and 40 paid hours to
conduct an industry- related research project.
John, a former Wairarapa Farmer of the Year himself, has served two recent Hawkes Bay Farmers of the Year winners in his
role as a rural consultant where his specialises in agribusiness, strategic planning, business analysis and coaching.
Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen said John is “exceptionally proficient” at using the software to help clients get
the best performance from their businesses.
“His nomination description called him a rock star of the consultancy world and that’s exactly what he is. He is an
excellent consultant but also has a real grasp of the practicalities of farming having been a very successful farmer in
his own right,” Mr McEwen said.
John will use the prize to complete a project demonstrating how the unique strategic attributes of a farm can be best
integrated with the supply chain, including processors and exporters, in order to minimise wastage in the system and
maximise profit on Farm.
He will use the Farmax model to help farmers visualise and understand the benefits of taking a holistic, longer term
approach, instead of the price taking and spot market mentality that is often a hindrance to industry advancement.
AgFirst Hawkes Bay consultant Ben Harker won the Emerging Consultant Award thanks in part to his understanding of the
benefits of technology, systems changes and the key drivers of success.
Ben’s conscientious approach and willingness to try different options to reach a goal helped clinch him the title.
The Farmax awards were developed to recognise the expertise of consultants using the New Zealand-developed software
synonymous with rural professional excellence, Mr McEwen said.
“Without the expertise of the consultants driving the application and interpreting the results it is only software,” Mr
Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s farm general manager Richard Wakelin said the awards support key elements of the red meat
sector’s strategy and in particular sector best practice.
“The role agribusiness consultants play in improving farm productivity through improved business skills is absolutely
critical to the success of the red meat sector. This competition promotes those who are going the extra mile in
developing their core skills,” Richard said.
Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) Director Justine Gilliland said sponsoring the
award aligns with MPI’s goal of furthering the productivity and profitability of the primary sector.
“Ensuring farmers are getting the best performance from their businesses, and enabling them to adapt and innovate, will
be key to New Zealand’s current and future prosperity,” says Ms Gilliland.
About 25 per cent of New Zealand’s rural professionals are Farmax consultants.