The Weekly Times and Coles enter second decade of Farmer of the Year Awards

Farmer of the Year Awards

A husband and wife dairy operation in regional Victoria was named this year’s winner

The Weekly Times and Coles Farmer Of The Year awards have entered their second decade, with a husband and wife dairy operation in regional Victoria being named this year’s winner.

The awards, announced at a gala event in Melbourne on Friday evening, are an annual celebration of individuals whose efforts weave new chapters into Australian history.

In less than five years, Nicole and Brendan Saunders built a multimillion-dollar dairy business in Gippsland after relocating from New Zealand in 2018 as share farmers.

The Herald and Weekly Times Chairman and News Corp Australia Community Ambassador Penny Fowler said the couple epitomise the award’s spirit.

“The Farmer Of The Year recognises the best in the business – those who lead the way, innovate and realise success exactly like the Saunders have done,” Fowler said.

“Nicole and Brendan came to Australia, started a business from scratch during a drought and grew it into a national success story, reflecting the vital role all of our farmers and their communities play nationally.”

The Weekly Times Coles 2022 Farmers of the Year Brendan and Nicole Saunders from Maffra in Victoria.

Fowler said the awards’ longevity – now entering their second decade – owe much to the dedication of long-term commercial partner, Coles.

“For the past 11 years Coles has been an absolutely fantastic partner in this venture, providing a platform of deserved recognition for those that generally shy away from it.”

Coles’s chairman, James Graham said: “This year, Coles is proud to once more partner with The Weekly Times to celebrate the exceptional work of farmers across Australia through the Farmer of the Year awards. This year’s winners are all family-run businesses demonstrating a strong commitment to innovation and sustainability, enhancing Australia’s reputation as a leader in food production and agribusiness.”

Farmer of the Year Awards

James Graham

Each category winner received $5,000, with the overall Farmer of the Year collecting a further $10,000.

Over the past 11 years, The Weekly Times Coles Farmer of the Year Awards have had 66 winners, 198 finalists and thousands of nominations.

The Weekly Times’s editor, James Wagstaff said the title for Farmer of The Year was again hotly contested in a year marked by floods, tight supply chains, record prices and labour shortages. 

 “No matter the hurdles they face, our farmers keep Australia going, as well as innovating for the future and prosperity of their industries which play an increasingly important role feeding and clothing the world,” he said.

“As editor of The Weekly Times – which has forged a reputation as the Bible of The Bush over more than 150 years of continuous publishing – it’s a great privilege to champion and recognise. The Weekly Times Coles Farmer of the Year Awards – the biggest and best of their type in the country.”

See also: The Weekly Times and Coles mark 10-year partnership at the Farmer of the Year Awards

Top image: Coles chairman James Graham, Herald and Weekly Times chairman Penny Fowler, incoming Coles chief executive Leah Weckert, The Weekly Times editor James Wagstaff and MC Giaan Rooney. 

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