John Wilson Memorial Trophy goes to Manawatū couple.
Stewarts win Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award
James and Debbie Stewart won the John Wilson Memorial Trophy for the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award.

James and Debbie Stewart have been named this year’s Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award winners, receiving the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.

The award, which received more than 20 nominations across all regions this year, was created to recognise and celebrate dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainability and who are passionate about the four pillars of Responsible Dairying – people and community, finance, environment and animal welfare.

It was presented to the Stewarts at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards gala dinner on May 11 in Queenstown.

Head panellist Michael Hide said the judges were left with one big question following their time with the Stewarts – what more could anyone do to demonstrate the notion of “responsible dairying”?

“Their passion, professionalism and leadership within the industry across all aspects of their business is beyond impressive and only surpassed by their dedication to giving back to their local community,” Hide said.

The selection panel noted that all of the national nominee farms were unique  and achieving great things in their own way, Hide said.

“It was truly inspirational for us as the national selection panel to see the amazing things that they’ve all been doing in their businesses.”

The panellists were impressed with the Stewarts’ outward understanding of the dairy industry, its importance to New Zealand and the importance of building their own story and brand.

“They are supporting the future of people within the sector and this can be seen in their significant staff retention and in the way people are stimulated by working in an ‘open air office’.

“James and Debbie are aware of their roles as ambassadors for the dairy industry and their community engagement is evident with the farm designed from an ‘open farm’ perspective,” Hide said.

The Stewarts run Dairylands in Manawatū. The couple embrace the past and plan for the future with 3km of streamside planting and a walkway, with an intergenerational feel.

“James and Debbie don’t do things by halves, they have a strong, consolidated business but are by no means resting on their laurels,” Hide said.

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