Grassmere's Isaac and Michelle Johnstone win Employer of the Year award

Top employer: Grassmere dairy farmers Isaac and Michelle Johnstone won the 2017  Employer of the Year title.    Picture: Morgan Hancock
Top employer: Grassmere dairy farmers Isaac and Michelle Johnstone won the 2017 Employer of the Year title. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Grassmere farmers Isaac and Michelle Johnstone were hailed for their approach in creating an efficient and well-oiled team with the Employer of the Year Award at the 2017 Great South West Dairy Awards.

The awards celebrated the quality and resilience of the regional dairy industry at a ceremony attended by nearly 300 people on Wednesday night at Deakin University’s Warrnambool campus.

WestVic Dairy’s regional manager Lindsay Ferguson said the large number of nominations and the quality of the finalists highlighted the high standards in the local industry. 

“We are part of a wonderful, if at times challenging, industry and it is important to recognise those who are outstanding in their business practices,” Mr Ferguson said.

I​n other awards announced at the ceremony, Jorge Massa, a farm manager from Cooriemungle, won the Employee of the Year award for his impressive range of both technical and staff management skills.

Todd and Madeline Leddin from Toolong received the Share Farmer of the Year Award after the judges scored them highly for their approach to benchmarking profit, equity building and farm investments.

Andrew Powell of Cooriemungle was recognised for his passionate involvement in the community and the local dairy industry with the award for the Young Farm Leader of the Year Award.

Young Farm Leader of the Year award winner Andrew Powell of Cooriemungle near Simpson. Picture: Everard Himmelreich

Young Farm Leader of the Year award winner Andrew Powell of Cooriemungle near Simpson. Picture: Everard Himmelreich

The Natural Resource and Sustainability Award went to Max and Pam Wines from Ecklin South.

The Wines have undertaken a range of sustainability initiatives on their farm including shelter belt plantings, the effective reuse of dairy effluent for forage production, and the installation of 400 solar panels to power the farm’s irrigation system.

The WestVic Dairy Farm Photo of the Year was snapped by Jess Fleming from Gorae West, near Portland, with a photo capturing the first moments between cow and calf.

The award for the Top South-West Holstein Herd as at April 17 this year went to BJ & JL Dickson at Terang while Con Glennen & Co at Noorat had the Top Jersey Herd.

The Dicksons also won the title of breeding the south west’s Top Holstein Heifer under 12 months of age as at April 17 with Emu Banks Royalbee 8586.

The Glennens won the south-west’s Top Jersey Heifer under 12 months of age title with White Star 5921.

Dairy Australia chief Ian Halliday told the crowd it had been a difficult two years for the industry with last year’s low milk prices preceded by a very dry 2015-16.

Mr Halliday said farmers had needed tenacity and resilience to get through and congratulated farmers for persevering.