Farmers Recognised for Future Focus

Now in their 8th year, the Plate to Pasture Awards celebrate leading Silver Fern Farms suppliers of lamb, beef, venison, and bull beef who consistently supply the company with quality stock and produce food with consumer needs in mind.

All Silver Fern Farms suppliers are assessed on the consistent specification & presentation of stock, their Farm Assurance status, supply direct via Silver Fern Farms Livestock agents, shareholding, supply volume & timing and use of FarmIQ tools. Six regional finalists are then assessed by a judging panel to determine the overall winner.

“The 2021 finalists were the most exceptional bunch we have seen to date, and illustrate the progress farmers have made embracing the spirit of the award since its introduction,” commented Head judge Melissa Sowden.

Jo Johnstone, of Wallace Johnstone Ltd, attributed their success to the strong team culture they have built on farm.

“You’re nothing without your team and we’ve spent a lot of time creating a culture among our team. We love our people, and we’ve built that into the culture,” said Johnstone.

Allen Johnstone expressed his surprise at having been chosen among such a strong field.

“We’re thrilled to be up against such great competition. We thought we wouldn’t have a chance actually.”

Sowden noted that Allen and Jo epitomise what the judges were looking for in a Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Award winner.

“The systems, processes and policies on this farm were next level, and their future focus on environmental sustainability was clear. They just understand what it is that consumers are demanding now and into the future, and they’re gearing their business to match and exceed these market expectations,” she said.

“The Johnstones already include indigenous biodiversity and carbon reporting on their farm. They’ve planted an impressive 12,000 natives in the last two years, with plans for another 5,500 in the next year. Their property boasts 250ha of lush regenerating native bush, demonstrating their commitment to environmental sustainability.”

The award comes after Silver Fern Farms’ announcement that the company will be launching a Net Carbon Zero Certified Beef product in 2021 as it moves towards a regenerative future.

The second annual Food Challenge Award was also hotly contested. The Award went to John and Rose Acland of Mount Peel Station, who presented an internationally inspired two-course meal featuring a secondary venison cut and lamb shortloin, showing off their understanding of the type of dishes that discerning customers of premium New Zealand red meat are seeking.

The judges for the 2021 Plate to Pasture Awards were Melissa Sowden (Agribusiness Technical Support, Silver Fern Farms), Sam Robinson (Director, Silver Fern Farms Ltd) and Brent Lilley (overall winner, 2020).

The 2021 Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarship was also awarded at the event, with six future industry leaders awarded $5000 each.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair Rob Hewett said that since launching the scholarship in 2017, $160,000 has been awarded to 32 young people.

“As our business continues to transform into the modern market-led food company we aspire to be, we will need smart, young talent to support that success. Our Plate to Pasture Scholarship continues to attract and inspire the leaders of tomorrow and we’re delighted to set these young people on the path to a bright future in our sector.”

The Youth Scholarship recipients were:

  • Dominic Morrison, Otago
  • Ella Zwagerman, Southland
  • Georgia Moody, Manawatu
  • Izabella Hurst, North Otago
  • Molly Donald, Manawatu
  • Sarah Wilson, Manawatu