In a groundbreaking moment for New Zealand’s farming community, Emma Poole, a farmer from Waikato-Bay of Plenty, has become the first woman to win the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition in its 55-year history. Poole emerged victorious after three days of rigorous challenges that tested her farming skills and general knowledge.
The award ceremony, held in Timaru, marked a significant milestone as Poole accepted the prestigious title. With pride, she declared, “We’ve finally knocked the grass ceiling off the roof.” She acknowledged the countless women who have worked tirelessly over the years to demonstrate the crucial role they play in agriculture. Poole credited their achievements for giving her the confidence to participate and succeed. She expressed gratitude for being the product of their dedication.
The competition journey began with regional finals taking place across the country between February and April. The six grand finalists faced a range of tasks over three days, including machinery repairs, creating a hydroponic system, and an intense race-style challenge involving multiple tasks that tested both skill and speed.
The judges were impressed by Poole’s resilience, diverse range of skills and knowledge, and sheer determination. Lynda Coppersmith, the Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers, expressed delight for Emma, describing the FMG Young Farmer of the Year award as the most prestigious farming accolade in the country. Coppersmith believes Poole will be an outstanding ambassador not only for the contest but also for the entire food and fiber sector.
Poole admitted feeling overwhelmed by her historic win, acknowledging the tough competition and the challenging three days of the contest. While she did not feel overly confident, she knew she had given her best effort, which was all she could hope for.