Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Wide range of candidates seeking election to DairyNZ board

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Candidates try to convince New Zealand’s 11,300 dairy farmers to vote for them.
ANC says there are elevated levels of milk powder stocks in China, adding to the challenges from that market.
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The 13 candidates vying for the two board positions at DairyNZ include a wide array of people with experience in governance, farming and commerce across New Zealand.

Colin Glass is retiring and not seeking re-election and chair Jim van der Poel is retiring by rotation.

In the candidate profiles from the notice of meeting booklet, Foxton farmer and Groundswell co-ordinator Bryan Pedersen says he promises “to bring a grass root, farmer focused, voice to DairyNZ”.

“Firstly, voting for me you will have a voice and the best of both worlds, I’m still a hands-on farmer with a strong connection to the job, secondly, I am completely comfortable in the board room arguing for a better go for us as New Zealand dairy farmers. 

“Finally, if you are happy with how DairyNZ is spending your levy, I am not your man, please select and support some other candidate.”

Former Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern says that never before has there been a more urgent need for well-researched science-based answers to some of the issues facing the dairy industry. 

It needs strong leadership debating the good work the industry is doing on all fronts. 

“DairyNZ is the only independent (that is not commercially involved) science-based organisation that can combine all these needs, the question is if not DairyNZ then who?” he says.

“For this reason I have decided to put my name forward for a position on the DairyNZ board and seek your support in this election.”

Putāruru farmer Gray Baldwin says the best thing about DairyNZ is the outstanding people who work there.

“Leading scientists, collaborators, innovators, communicators, committed passionate people who put their heart and soul into making the dairy industry better for us farmers. These good people need a clear steer from the top – something I will be pleased to contribute to if you elect me to the board.”

Baldwin says he does not support DairyNZ’s new model for animal evaluation.

“The genetics market in NZ is not broken and levy payer resources would be better spent in areas such as on farm costs, repro performance, adverse weather events and bobby calves.”

While the He Waka Eke Noa consultation was a difficult tightrope for DairyNZ to walk, Baldwin says he believes there was too much political lobbying, which undermines DairyNZ’s “trusted industry expert” status.

“Rather than local politicians, we should let global customers like Nestlé and Starbucks inform our carbon emissions actions.”

Morrinsville farmer Paul Manion sees four areas where DairyNZ can make a difference: Establishing a well funded lobby group giving DairyNZ a voice in Wellington, investing in online resources for dairy farmers,  having staff contracts including 50/50, contract and lease agreements available for free and establishing KPIs around all workshops and spending, and dropping activities where there is a low level of interaction or low-level outcomes.

“Together, let’s make DairyNZ work harder for us in ways which will make a real difference and genuinely make our levy investment worth it.”

Incumbent director and DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says DairyNZ must continue to be the organisation that plays an important role in helping farmers and dairy organisations work together around community, environmental and animal wellbeing outcomes.

“My commitment is to continue in my role in DairyNZ, to work in the best interests of farmers to help ensure regulations meet those objectives. To also ensure farmers are supported in incorporating those targets into their future farming systems, whilst maintaining the viability of their farming operations.”

Auckland-based Seamus Barden is a founder and director of an IT consultancy with clients and staff in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Queenstown.

He comes from a strong farming background and has recently purchased a dairy farm with friends in Southland.

“Farming has always been a key fixture in my life and I see huge opportunities for our primary producers to leverage technology to further enhance our competitive advantage,” he says.

“There seems to be a growing divide between town and country in New Zealand, and I would like to help bridge this gap. And as a DairyNZ fee payer, I am keen to ensure genuine value is delivered back to our farming community. I understand the need for a strong advocate within our industry and want to see DairyNZ grow in this space.”

Ashburton-based Jeremy Savage says the plethora of policies placed on the dairy industry over the past several years have meant DairyNZ governance and staff have had to spend an inordinate amount of time on these issues, lobbying on the industry’s behalf. 

“However, for farmers to be viable, and sustainable for the future, good science and on-farm management is key. I believe greater engagement with farmers and associated science is needed for us farmers to rise to the challenges we face.”

Swannanoa dairy farmer Cameron Henderson says he wants to bring a positive, progressive and pragmatic approach to the DairyNZ board.

“I am excited about the future of dairy, but we must have practical and science-led solutions, on farm and in policy. 

“DairyNZ has a lead role in delivering both, but needs to be better connected with its levy payers, listening not lecturing, and being more strategic about when to represent farmers and when to lead farmers.”

Rakaia farmer and board director Jessie Chan says while the dairy industry has a strong future, DairyNZ  needs to support farmers to withstand the ongoing financial, environmental, social and regulatory challenges. 

“As a DairyNZ director, I’ll bring that support.”

If voted on the board, Chan says she will put farmers and their businesses at the centre of decision-making.

“With the milk price down, interest rates and costs up, we need our levy working even harder for all farmers.”

Aka Aka farmer Stu Muir brings over 25 years’ experience in agri-business, strategic leadership and innovation, iwi engagement, dairy farming, environmental restoration, pest management and community engagement. 

“I believe there must be recognition of the regional challenges and opportunities that we are facing as an industry. The expenditure and investment of DairyNZ levy funds must reflect this.”

Te Poi farmer and former Fonterra Co-operative Council chair James Barron says he has a track record of effective contribution to the dairy industry.

“My experience with Fonterra has given me a good understanding of what is required to govern effectively. It’s about identifying purpose, setting the right culture, holding management to account, and ensuring effective compliance.”

Paeroa dairy farmer Conall Buchanan says DairyNZ must have a laser focus on improving outcomes for farmer levy payers.

“As a director of DairyNZ, I would use genuine farming, executive and governance experience to keep farmer interests at the front of all decisions, and the centre of all strategy. DairyNZ is vital to our industry. It does many things well, but must step up to justify continued support at the next levy vote in two years.”

Lumsden farmer Jason Herrick says that being involved in the advocacy space, as well as being a grassroots farmer, he fully understands the issues the sector is facing.

As a DairyNZ director Herrick says he will focus on people, the environment and unity.

“If elected to the DairyNZ board, I will bring that grassroots experience, passion and drive. I am very approachable, and my biggest strength is I care about all people, and will bend over backwards to help anyone in need.”

Voting opened last month and closes on October 10. The estimated number of levy payers on the electoral roll is 11,300, comprising all dairy farmers in New Zealand who supply milksolids to a dairy processing company. 

After the close of voting, the vote for each dairy farmer will be multiplied by the number of milksolids produced by each dairy farmer.

The election results will be announced at the DairyNZ annual meeting on October 11 at the Te Awamutu Library.

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