Saturday, December 2, 2023

Value for farmers is focus of new DairyNZ CEO

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Campbell Parker talks about the priorities for the levy body as he takes the reins.
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New DairyNZ chief executive Campbell Parker says his focus will be on delivering value for farmers, whether that be through advocacy or on-farm support.

Parker experienced his first annual meeting as CEO last week, and with chair Jim van der Poel re-elected to the board along with newcomer Cameron Henderson, he said there’s a good mix of experience and new thinking around the board table.

“When Colin Glass stood down, [Jim] felt strongly about re-standing and providing some continuity,” Parker told the Farmers Weekly In Focus podcast.

He said Henderson “brings some real good energy to the business”,  describing him as a “very progressive farmer”.

Parker said DairyNZ’s priorities are the same as they have always been – giving farmers the tools and support they need to succeed on farm and advocating on their behalf in Wellington.

“Look, I think the advocacy and policy role is really important because, you know, we do that on behalf of farmers.”

He echoed the words of Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland, who said last week that the three industry groups – Feds, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ – need to work together to advance farmers’ interests.

“I actually had the opportunity to join a tri-board meeting across those three entities … before I started. My intent is that we should definitely collaborate. But we also need to be conscious that, you know, we represent 11,000 dairy farmers. So we need to have good constructive debate. But sometimes we won’t always agree and that’s actually okay as well.”

With dairy farmers facing budget pressures, giving them the support they need to ride out the current dip in the commodity cycle is also important.

“Look, we’ve got some really good tools around managing through a tight time. So the teams are doing work around that, whether it be at discussion groups or with individual farmers. 

“Our industry has a history of being cyclical. A lot of farmers have been through cycles before and know how to manage that. But it’s some of the newer entrants to the industry or new farm owners that probably need a little bit more help around that space as well. Particularly if they’ve got a higher debt loading.”

Right now though, Parker said he’s getting to know the DairyNZ team and talking with farmers to get their views on its work.

“My initial priority is to get in and try and understand the business before getting to making any changes. So that’s really my first priority: meet the team, understand the business, meet with farmers, understand what they think we do well and where we need to improve, and then work with the board around potentially reshaping the strategy and what we need to do. 

“I think the most important thing, from my perspective, is the activities we do have got to deliver value for farmers. So that’s the most important thing. And then it’s have we got those priorities right, for both the short term but also the longer term of the industry.”

In Focus: Election 2023 brings winds of change

Bryan with chats to the new chief executive Campbell Parker about his background and his plans for the industry group. Listen from the 12:13 minute mark.

Listen to “Ep.13 | Election 2023 brings winds of change” on Spreaker.
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