The winners of Great South West Dairy Awards have been announced. 

The first announcement of the evening saw farmer Renata Cumming win the Young Dairy Leader Award, sponsored by the Gardiner Dairy Foundation. Judges noted her passion for dairy and the broader agricultural industry and said she demonstrated strong leadership skills. Melanie Ackerley was awarded the runner up Award, sponsored by The Union Dairy Company. 

John and Rochelle Pekin won the Natural Resource and Sustainability Management Award sponsored by Corangamite CMA and Glenelg Hopkins CMA. The Pekin’s impressed the judges with their ability to integrate both productivity and sustainability goals into their dairy farm business, proactively seeking out the latest information and trialing new approaches. Tim and Marie Humphris took out the runner up Award, sponsored by Bega Cheese Limited.

In a unanimous decision, Karen Angus’s entry ‘Red Hot Summer’ won the Farm Photo Award sponsored by Lactalis Australia Pty Ltd. The runner up photo was taken by Janine Thow.

Meaghan Johnston from Bega was awarded the Service Provider Award, sponsored by Moyne Shire, after impressing the judges with her dedication, passion and commitment to the industry. James O'Brien was awarded runner up, with the award sponsored by Greencon Australia Pty Ltd. 

Moyne Shire Mayor Ian Smith said, “A successful agricultural industry is the cornerstone to a vibrant and prosperous Moyne Shire Council.  

With 54 per cent of employment, 93 per cent of Moyne’s exports, 73 per cent of local expenditure and 40 per cent of all local wages being tied to the agricultural and food manufacturing industries, Moyne Shire Council is focused on ensuring that they continue to flourish.”

In the Employee Award, new farmer Liz Mackley took the honours, winning the category sponsored by Fonterra Australia. She impressed judges with her ability to learn, process and apply new skills. The runner up is Jeffery Caballero, with the Award sponsored by Apiam Animal Health. 

Fonterra Australia said of their sponsorship, “Fonterra is committed to helping grow the local dairy industry, and we believe that for dairy to thrive we need to invest in and celebrate young people who want to progress in the industry. 

We’re proud to support the Great South West Dairy Employee Award, and alongside the Fonterra Australia Suppliers’ Council ‘Proud to be a Dairy Farmer’ program which aims to develop the next generation of dairy leaders, we believe the industry has a strong future.”

Maryke Roux took out one of the premier Awards of the night - Dairy Farm Business Management, supported by Dairy Australia and WestVic Dairy. Judges commented that she displays an insatiable passion and energy for the business, and demonstrated exemplary performance in planning, delivery, communication and commitment to business management. Jason Karney was awarded runner up, with the Award sponsored by Saputo Dairy Australia. 

The evening concluded with the induction of Colac dairy farmer, Mark Billing to the regional industry Honour Board. The judges commented, “Mark has made outstanding contributions to the region’s dairy industry over a long period. His passion, capability and commitment shine through, backed up by several leadership positions which have earned him respect within and beyond the dairy industry.  He is willing to contribute to the development of the industry and mentor others.”

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