Wallendbeen farmer Chris Hall of Hall Family Orchards and Megan dairy farmer Renae Connell have been announced as the respective winners of the 2019 NSW Farmer of the Year and 2019 Young Farmer of the Year.
The awards were presented by NSW Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall at a ceremony at Parliament House today.
“I warmly congratulate the winners. Both are incredibly deserving and they each beat out a strong field of finalists,” Mr Marshall said.
“Each brings such a unique skill set that really captures the dynamic and diverse industry that is farming in NSW.
“While the awards belong to each of them, there is no doubt they also represent a collective pride for all farmers in NSW, many of whom are doing it incredibly tough at the moment dealing with ongoing drought conditions, now coupled with devastating fires.
“I acknowledge how difficult it is at present for our farmers and our regional and rural communities but it is also important to stop and celebrate the successes and positives as we look forward to a time when farmers can take every opportunity to capitalise on skills like these when better conditions prevail.”
Mr Hall is a third generation mixed enterprise farmer specialising in growing and packing export quality premium cherries as well as cross breed sheep, Angus cattle, cereal and mixed species cover crops based in southern NSW.
Chris is a self described environmentalist and innovator and his ethos is to partner with nature rather than controlling it, an approach that has now enabled him to farm pesticide and herbicide free for more than two years.
Ms Connell of the Dorrigo district runs her business with a focus on animal health and welfare, with a view that if the fundamental wellbeing of their animals is covered productivity and profitability will follow. Renae is guiding the business towards complete and holistic management supported by sound investment in technology, research and education.
Her commitment to welfare and wellbeing extends beyond her animals, Renae is an advocate for mental health, particularly those in rural and regional communities.
“Chris and Renae are examples of some of our state’s best innovators. When times get tough, as they are now, they adapt, they modify and they find ways to survive – and that is the true spirit of farming,” Mr Marshall said.
The other finalists of the 2019 NSW Farmer of the Year are Lauren Newell, Wingham and Matthew Fenech, Horsley Park. Finalist of the 2019 NSW Young Farmer of the Year is Tim Carroll, Borenore.
The Farmer Of The Year and Young Farmer Of The Year Awards are an initiative of the NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW Farmers, with support from SafeWork NSW and Fairfax Agricultural Media.