TWELVE young guns of the WA dairy industry will address the problems they see constraining their industry as they attempt to win an inaugural award.
Seven WA dairy farmers or share farmers and five dairy employees aged 30 or less have been nominated to participate in the Brownes Dairy Young Dairy Farmer of the Year 2016 awards.
They have accepted the challenge to research and present their views on what they see as the barriers to growth in the WA dairy industry, and the solutions they come up with, to an industry selection panel.
There are two categories, one for dairy owner/share farmers and one for employees.
The selection panel will chose the best three in each category from the 12.
Finalists will be further interviewed to establish the two winners.
Each category winner will receive a $2500 cash prize.
The inaugural nominees are Tavis Hall, Brad Noakes, Zak Hortin, Kadie Atkin, Brentin Matthews, Nick Henderson, Shannon Jobe, Brad Fairbrass, Lachlan Fry, Luke Ieraci, Russell Hall and Wesley Lammie.
Western Dairy announced the awards last week.
Chairman Victor Rodwell said the awards process aimed to further develop business acumen in the dairy community.
"We are not just setting them this task and leaving them to it," Mr Rodwell said.
"In fact, far from that, Western Dairy will be supporting these young people to go through a quality process of constructive research, thought, preparation and review, ahead of presenting their ideas and concepts to industry.
"Our aim is for each nominee to view this process as one of professional development and something that will push them outside their comfort zone.
"We don't want them to present to our panel until they are well prepared and ready for the process.
"Given that the successful growth of our industry will be left in the hands of our up-coming generation, the final step in the process will be a great professional opportunity for the category winners.
"Once again, we will work closely with the finalists to think through that process and ensure we give them expert guidance in being ready for that interview."
Mr Rodwell said Western Dairy wanted an award that was "keenly contested".
"Our approach is that young people with ambition will work hard to secure funds to help realise that ambition," he said.
"This competition gives the opportunity for a significant leg-up but to win it will be hard earned.
"We are indebted to Brownes Dairy for recognising the importance of this part of the process."
The winners will be announced at the WA dairy industry dinner in Bunbury on April 28 after the Dairy Innovation Day.
Western Dairy executive officer Esther Jones said the competition would probably be held every two to three years.
"It was just that we have such an outstanding crop of young people involved in the industry at the moment and we felt we should do something to highlight that, but we also wanted to challenge them," Ms Jones said.
She said the selection panel will include representatives from Brownes and Western Dairy and a third yet-to-be-named business person.
FOREST GROVE dairy farmer Brad Noakes will draw on local experience to attempt to win a Brownes Dairy Young Dairy Farmer of the Year award.
Having been notified only last Thursday he had been nominated as one of 12 to compete for the initial awards, Mr Noakes has not had much time to think about the topic of barriers to growth in the WA dairy industry.
Mr Noakes farms with his older brother Steven and father Ian, milking about 530 cows on close to 400 hectares near Margaret River - so he already has an idea.
"I think my presentation will be about land-use conflict or the impact of land prices on the industry," he said.
"We're about 15 kilometres from Margaret River so we see it here where land values are being driven up by the popularity of the area, based on lifestyle, tourism, surfing and the vineyards.
"But it's not just here, it's happening to all of the dairy areas along the coast and in the South West.
"The demand for lifestyle blocks is putting pressure on good farm land.
"It's quite a big problem in WA.
"To maintain our own dairy industry in WA we're having to look at establishing in the Denmark and Albany areas because land values (and other problems that come with encroaching urban development) are putting it under pressure in existing areas.
"The local shires don't seem to want to do anything to help protect the diary industry, they're more interested in the extra rates," he said.
"We're lucky, we have pretty much got State forest on three sides of us here, but we're only a mid-sized dairy operation compared to some of them, some of them milk up to 2000 cows.
"You would need 2000ha to set up a dairy herd like that, imagine the capital cost if you tried to do that, to buy 2000ha now, in the Margaret River area.
"Yes, I think my topic will be around land use and land value."
A fourth generation dairy farmer, Mr Noakes said he accepted the challenge because it was the competition's first year.
"I can think of a few young dairy farmers I'll nominate next time," he said.
The Noakes family farm and another local dairy farmer Peter Evans last year agreed to supply Woolworths with milk for its Farmers' Own Margaret River brand.