Katie Milne is Agricultural Communicator of the Year

19 October, 2020

Her consistency of message, persuasiveness and common sense approach during a time of rural upheaval has seen former Federated Farmers President Katie Milne named 2020 Agricultural Communicator of the Year.

The cash prize and pounamu trophy was presented to Katie by sponsors Ravensdown at the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators awards night in Wellington last Friday.


Katie Milne with National board member Karen Williams and the chief executive of Federated Farmers, Terry Copeland.

Katie, a dairy farmer on the West Coast, was the first female President of Federated Farmers in its 118-year history and served between 2017 and 2020. She advocated on behalf of farmers affected by M-bovis and helped spearhead the subsequent eradication programme. More recently she argued powerfully to have primary sector businesses recognised as essential services during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Guild president Jackie Harrigan said Katie’s win was justly deserved as she had communicated skilfully and tirelessly during a period of extraordinary pressure and change in the rural sector.

“Katie is persuasive because she knows and believes what she talks about. She has convinced sceptical politicians, officials and public about the immense work that farmers are doing to improve freshwater, emissions, biodiversity, pest management and animal welfare.

“She has in turn convinced sceptical farmers to work even harder in all these areas on top of their essential work creating food for humans or livestock.

“Katie believes it is possible for New Zealand farming to prosper in an environmentally aware world, and those she talks to soon end up believing it as well.”

Ravensdown’s Chairman John Henderson praised Katie’s astute representation of views of farmers.

“Katie believes farming can always be smarter and needs to continue to improve. Ravensdown shares that belief and is delighted that the judges recognised how important her talent for communication has been to the sector.”

Katie told the awards night audience the secret is to believe in the indelible importance of the primary sector to New Zealand – farmers feed families - and to know first-hand the efforts of farmers to leave their land better than they found it.

“We do the best we can with the current tools, knowledge and resources we have available.  As our knowledge changes over time so do our farming practices - we need to trust our farmers to come up with innovative solutions to the challenges modern food production faces around producing more food from a carefully designed footprint,” Katie said.

A six- part series about a Martinborough winemaker, broadcast over eight months with the final recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic, took out this year’s top award in the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators annual journalism awards.

Recorded, written, edited and presented by Sally Round for the Country Life programme on RNZ, the series won the Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award recognising excellence in agricultural journalism.  She visited every two  months over a year, including overnighting to experience frost fighting.

Runner-up in the Rongo award was an entry from the the NZ Dairy Exporter team, called “Farming in the Covid-19 Bubble.

A total of 11 awards were presented, 9 were for journalism and one for photography.

Other award winners are:


*         The Ko Tatou This Is Us Biosecurity Journalism Award was won by Nikki Mandow, of RNZ News/Newroom.


  • The AgResearch Science Writers Award was won by Richard Rennie, for articles which appeared in the NZ Farmers Weekly.
  • The Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award was won by Sally Rae of the Otago Daily Times.   She won this award last year, as well.
  • The Federated Farmers Broadcast Journalism Award was won by Carol Stiles for two items that were broadcast on RNZ’s Country Life programme.
  • The  Zespri Export Journalism Award, was won by Nikki Mandow, for items that appeared on RNZ News and Newsroom.
  • Rural Women New Zealand Rural Connectivity Award, was won by Anne Lee for articles which appeared in The Dairy Exporter.
  •  The Alliance Group Ltd Red Meat Industry Journalism Award, was won by  Neal Wallace, for articles in the NZ Farmers Weekly
  • The Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award was won by Carol Stiles for a photo which accompanied an item an on the Country Life website.
  • The DairyNZ Dairy Industry Award was won by Anne Lee, foir articles which appeared in the Dairy Exporter
  • The Guild’s own award – the Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award, was won by Nikki Mandow, for items broadcast on RNZ News and Newsroom.

All the winning entries will be published in the Guild’s website in the next week.   www.nzgajc.org.nz