The changing role of women in farming is being celebrated with the announcement of the finalists in the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.
Trish Rankin from Taranaki, Kylie Leonard who farms north of Taupo, Julie Pirie from Ngatea in the Waikato and Southlander Emma Hammond are in the running for the award, which organisers say is changing public perception about the role of farmers' wives in New Zealand.
Dairy Women's Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said women on farms are not just farmers' wives anymore, and that they all juggle multiple roles, from being a vet and mechanic to a financial planner and strategic thinker.
"There’s no doubt the role women play in dairy farming now completely breaks the old fashioned mould of public perception about what a farmer's wife is," she said.
"They’re all farming partners, farming in their own right playing a major role in running a million dollar business," said Gibbs.
"They are a CEO, health and safety manager, environmental watchdog, farm labourer and policy writer, but at the end of the day, tuck the kids into bed at night and send them off to school with a packed lunch."
She said the strong message from this year's finalists was that although each was very passionate about their own farming operation, they all had an inner drive to go beyond and make the dairy industry a better place for all and future generations.
"They all want to make their mark in the dairy industry and feel a real need to get out beyond the gate to make a difference and to do their bit to leave the dairy industry better than it was before."
Fonterra's Managing Director of Co-operative Affairs, Mike Cronin said supporting the awards is a way to shine a light on the significant contributions being made by women across New Zealand.
"This year we see another impressive group of finalists who are driving the dairy industry forward and making a positive difference in their respective communities," he said.
The 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year receives a scholarship prize of up to $20,000 to undertake an approved professional business development programme.
The winner will be announced at a gala dinner during the Allflex Dairy Women's Network's conference in Christchurch on Wednesday 1 May.