Riverland potato producer Justin Della Zoppa has been named the 2014 Rabobank Potatoes South Australia Industry Award winner.
As part of his prize, Mr Della Zoppa, 28, has been awarded a scholarship to attend the 2014 Rabobank Farm Managers Program, a course which offers young farmers from across a range of agricultural sectors in Australia and New Zealand the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills. Participants take away new skills and techniques with a commercially-driven perspective on farm management to put systems and structures in place to manage growth.
Mr Della Zoppa said he was excited to be able to take his business management skills to the next level via the Rabobank Farm Managers Program. “My vision is to remain in our family business over the long-term, as a third generation potato producer, and on the Rabobank program, I hope to pick up some important skills to help me manage our farm business,” he said. “We are currently in expansion mode with a on the property having bought the neighbouring farm. We’re investing in irrigating that land so we can increase our production into the future. It’s an exciting time for our
Chosen from a select group of nominees, Mr Della Zoppa will be presented with his prize at the Potato Industry Conference in Mount Gambier 10-12 August this year. The Conference will be cohosted by Potatoes South Australia and seed certification authority, ViCSPA.
“I think the program will be critical in expanding my knowledge, communication, ability to influence, and my networking with other growers in the industry,” he said. “This will help me gain insight into successful farming operations in different parts of Australia and New Zealand. I am keen to learn about how to set up effective business structures to help grow the business and manage our financial goals.”
Along with his family, Mr Della Zoppa runs their business, Hilltop Produce, located approximately five kilometres outside of Waikerie. The enterprise is focused mostly on potato and onion production, as well as a citrus orchard and some rotational wheat and barley crops. After completing schooling in Adelaide, Mr Della Zoppa returned home to be a part of the family enterprise and to further his interests in horticultural production.
“There are lots of things I like about the potato industry but mainly, I enjoy the challenge of farming and it’s an industry I have grown up around so I have known it all my life,” he said. “Also, there aren’t too many others around this area doing it – only one other person my age in fact – so I
believe there is a real opportunity. You’re always challenged and you’re always learning something new.”
Hilltop Produce produces 100-200 acres of potatoes annually, with plans to expand production by close to 300 per cent in coming years. “We’re starting to develop all our land with a focus on irrigating over 1000 acres,” Mr Della Zoppa said.
“This plan will increase our potato and onion production by 300 per cent in the next three years. Then, we have a further 100 per cent production growth expected to come in the fifth year of our irrigation development which is based on a five-year rotation of the potato crop.”
Rabobank State Manager for South Australia Mr James Robinson said that Mr Della Zoppa would make an ideal candidate for the Farm Managers Program due to his highly-developed agronomic skills and technical ability in the industry.
“Rabobank and Potatoes South Australia have jointly sponsored this industry award as both organisations see it as an integral way of acknowledging and supporting the future leaders of the industry,” Mr Robinson said. Potatoes South Australia CEO, Ms Robbie Davis agrees.
“We want to invest in the future leaders of agriculture, and by supporting Mr Della Zoppa to further his leadership and management skills, we can be confident that the industry will be in a sound place for sustainable growth and productivity”, she said. “We anticipate that this will be an annual
award and the commencement of a strong partnership with food and agribusiness bank, Rabobank”.
Potatoes South Australia is the peak industry body and representative voice for the entire value chain.