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Ballance Agri Nutrients Board of Directors Elections 2023

Groundswell NZ

Ballance Agri Nutrients Board of Directors Elections 2023

CANDIDATES: Dani Darke, Allister Body, Geoff Crawford, Kim Lorigan, Andy Grant, James Hoban, Lachie Johnstone, Jared Collie

Groundswell NZ, on behalf of grassroots farmers, emailed all candidates with questions our supporters believe are important. We hope this helps Ballance farmer shareholders to make an informed vote. Below are the collated responses – please feel free to share with other farmers:

Do you support an Emissions Tax on NZ farmers/food producers?

DANI DARKE: I respectfully decline. My approach is to communicate one on one with shareholders and I have also provided a website for shareholders to get more information about what I stand for.

ALLISTER BODY: As an active farmer and Ballance shareholder, I am aware of the wide range of challenges our sector faces. With respect to your specific questions, I believe it is important for candidates in elections to choose the methods that they believe will be most effective in reaching their constituents. To this end I am going to respectfully decline to complete your questionnaire. My preference is to engage with shareholder on a one-on-one basis and I have provided multiple contact options such as phone, email, Facebook and LinkedIn on my campaign material. This allows shareholders to reach out through their preferred communication channels and effectively engage with me on a wide range of issues.

GEOFF CRAWFORD: No, I do not. I believe if our overseas competitors aren’t charging emission tax, then why would NZ be first. I don’t believe we need to be world leaders when sequestration options need to be addressed and agreed to first. Sequestration rules need to be more equitable for all landowners. For example, Northland has a large percentage of our native forest is in a juvenile form, regenerating from pre-Colonisation to today. This needs to be accounted for, which would probably make Northland Carbon Neutral.

KIM LORIGAN: No I don’t support this tax in any form – it is clearly a bias tax, and lacks understanding. Food processing including farming was not part of the Paris Accord. We are not sure why this tax is applied to our farmers. Farmers are a easy target, there is not that many of us and politically it is easy to force and penalise a few than effect the majority of a population.

ANDY GRANT: No. I don’t know any farmer / food producer that would want to pay a tax. (A levy as the Government calls it)

JAMES HOBAN: No. Our consumers are demanding that we reduce emissions and we have already been doing that – both gross emissions and in terms of emissions efficiency relative to production. Because we are on a downward trajectory already, I don’t see the basis for an emissions tax at this point in time.

LACHIE JOHNSTONE: I don't support any regulatory intervention that affects any one group disproportionately. NZ Food production is widely recognised as having a lower environmental impact than other nations. Why would we put this at risk, for the sake of political expediency. It makes no sense to undermine our ability to deliver the best food to the world.

JARED COLLIE: I appreciate the opportunity you have provided with the aim to promote the upcoming Ballance board of directors’ election. For this election I have provided multiple options for shareholders to contact me on a one-to-one basis, therefore I am going to respectfully decline your invitation. Furthermore, I am reluctant to provide information to an outside party that I then have no control over. I hope the Groundswell team understands and can respect my decision.

Do you support the He Waka Eke Noa proposal, or do you think it should be taken back to the drawing board?

GEOFF CRAWFORD: Take it back to the drawing board. I don’t agree to extra taxing on production and don’t agree with the methane warming propaganda. Its hard to know what science to believe so I’ve done my own research and I am not convinced with what’s been promoted by Government and He Waka Eke Noa.

KIM LORIGAN: I think the He Waka Eke Noa is a better approach than what the Government initially proposed but fundamentally I disagree with NZ farmers being in any scheme. If by push and shove, we are forced into a scheme it maybe our best option with some more tweaking. It may not be perfect but as a starting point the collaboration of the industry groups is a good start and is a wide representation of who needs to be involved. I think that we should be focusing on science, best practice and education in lowering emissions not just penalising the farming sector.

ANDY GRANT: I’m not actually sure where He Waka Eke Noa is at currently. It is a political football. Taxing the food and natural fibre producers will only increase the cost to produce their products. This will then need to be sold at a higher price to consumers and if that can’t happen it will force some businesses to change land use or to have to sell up. Ballance and all other agri supply co-op’s companies as well as the producer co-op’s and companies will be effected by the ETS. So they will be taxed, reducing their profitability which will directly affect the cost and returns to the farmers / growers. He Waka Eke Noa then becomes a double tax.

JAMES HOBAN: No. I cannot support a scheme that will push so many farmers out of business. The impact of HWEN on hill country farmers in particular, who have limited mitigation options available, is completely unacceptable. Designing a scheme to keep everyone happy is a big ask and I’d like to acknowledge the effort that industry leaders put into HWEN but where it landed is untenable. I do think the split gas approach is positive and that sequestration recognition is important but the way the latter was designed in HWEN meant it would not provide the major benefits most farmers were hoping for.

LACHIE JOHNSTONE: Send it back to the Drawing Board. There seems to be a disconnect between what the farmers want, what our industry leaders advocated for with the Govt, and what the Govt has actually decided to do. This is an unsustainable situation and needs a rework.

DANI DARKE: declined to answer, as above

ALLISTER BODY: declined to answer, as above

JARED COLLIE: declined to answer, as above

What initiatives would you encourage to ensure NZ dairy farmers are more widely recognised as the most emissions efficient producers in the world?

GEOFF CRAWFORD: 1) Promote our free-range production in NZ. 2) Measure carbon and monitor farming footprint. A simple method needs to be researched. Provide the tools that guide farmers to do this effectively is crucial. 3) Incentives for sustainable practices with tax breaks or the horrible word: subsidies, that encourage techniques that reduce emissions and add soil carbon for example. 4) This is a long game so planning and trials with clear targets and out comes that can be easily integrated into farming systems. 5) The story needs to reformatted, as primary schools have been using farming and food production as a poor career option.

Consumer education with real facts backing up the story, recognising that NZ is the most efficient protein producers in the world.This will require commitment to investment over time from farmers and industry stakeholders it’s a complex challenge and I have full faith we will get there.

KIM LORIGAN: There has to be more education at primary and secondary school level, as this is the early stages of learning about the world. Educational videos and factual information needs to go to those that are not farmers/growers/primary producers. Non-farming groups form their opinions, not always from fact but from media produced (often politically influenced) opinions. I believe there needs to be information sent via social media, in forms that our young people read/see – in cafes/restaurants – more facts about how the primary sector is achieving quality and healthy food whilst also recognising the environment and its emissions footprint. Fonterra already do a fabulous job of recognising those in its industry for reducing emissions and meeting their environmental challenges – groups outside the industry should be fed this information.

ANDY GRANT: Not just dairy farmers but all food and fibre producers can look to implement the things they see as beneficial to their business depending on business type and location that do not cost a lot to do. I would like to see continued and consistent messaging from all the advocacy groups to Government and to the world about our production efficiency. NZ feeds around 40 million people in the world over and above our own population, this should be ‘accounted’ for!

JAMES HOBAN: We need initiatives that grow recognition of all New Zealand farmers, not just dairy. Our farmers are the most efficient in the world and we should be in a position where they are celebrated rather than vilified, by the wider public. Most problems start with a lack of understanding – rather than being defensive we would make more progress with a proactive approach to building empathy and understanding. Clear, attractive farming related resources used routinely in primary and secondary schools would be a good start. Farm hosted visits for policy planners and regulators would also help. These sorts of initiatives happen already but not widely enough and not through a coordinated industry strategy. Several years involvement withThe Ballance Farm Environment awards exposed me to leading farm businesses and completely reaffirmed that as a primary industry we have a lot to be proud of. Without public understanding we risk losing our licence to operate. Like it or not, we are vastly outnumbered by the urban voting population and we need their support to ensure that we have a viable future.

LACHIE JOHNSTONE: This is a problem for the entire agricultural sector, rather than Dairying alone. One of the best ways to change people's perceptions is to provide them with credible independent evidence of the progress that is being made by farmers. Good examples of this are riparian planting, reducing sediment run off, excluding cattle from waterways and more accurate fertiliser application. These lead to cleaner water and healthier ecosystems. We need to celebrate our successes and share them with others.Perhaps MPI's newly formed On Farm Service could collect and collate the data to demonstrate to the public at large the genuine progress farmers are making. Wouldn't that be a real value add in the battle to show that NZ Farmers are actually world class and are doing their bit? Then we could challenge other industries as to what real progress they have made, obviously with evidence to support it.

DANI DARKE: declined to answer, as above

ALLISTER BODY: declined to answer, as above

JARED COLLIE: declined to answer, as above

Do you believe the amount of unworkable environmental regulations is past tipping point in terms of what farmers can mentally and financially sustain? Please explain.

GEOFF CRAWFORD: Yes, I do. As a farmer it would be easier to focus on one or two issues at a time and do those well so we can see and feel a level of success that will give us confidence to move onto other issues. It’s suddenly became like a running race with no finish line. The frustration with regulation is that government and agencies haven’t worked out the sharing of critical data between themselves which isn’t up to farmers to sort. One level of entered data that can be shared if the farmers agree to or fill out multiple times it should be choice. Mentally and financially all these requirements are overwhelming and are placing pressure upon farmers who are in a stress mode mentality already with costs and payout stressors.

KIM LORIGAN: A lot of industries are facing this. I have however seen first hand the impact this is having on farmers and their families, financially and mentally. There is a need for a set of rules, that should be based on agreed environmental regulations and targets, simplified, achievable and accountable. Eg; if a farmer wants to do something on his land, it should be easy enough to action a set of guidelines, that doesn’t take months, and if he doesn’t comply – he is made accountable. Too much of this frustration is born out of slow responses to requests, and too many issues to overcome that just don’t make sense. In general, most farmers only want to enhance their land, develop and improve their land, - common sense must apply, but also accountability if it is not adhered to.

ANDY GRANT: Yes. As an irrigated dairy farmer in Canterbury, I know all about audits. This is not unique to many other parts of NZ.Not all audits are bad and our business has made small and ongoing improvement in a number of areas due to them. These have not always cost us money and in some instances saved or made us some money. But the different data collection required for the different audits means a lot more time required week on week in preparation for the audits. In some instances this does nothing to operational improvement, it just takes time and costs money.

JAMES HOBAN: I’m answering this question towards the end of lambing, when there are not enough hours in the day and the kids are home from school sick, everyone is run down and overwhelmed by the work to do and I’ve just had an email from ECan about Nassella tussock. I will get to it tonight, once the kids are finally in bed and I’ll deal with it at the expense of talking to my wife. Iknow farmers are overwhelmed by the waves of regulation because I am. My wife and I have both been to university, we’re both under 40, we’ve both held professional jobs and had experience working for bureaucracies. We should be able to handle the paperwork that bogs us down as well as anyone but we constantly battle. If we are feeling like this then how are other farmers coping? From talking to friends of various generations I don’t think they are. Some businesses have better systems for coping but for most farming families, there is not a lot of extra time or money available to deal with new regulations. Unfortunately, that is now creeping into people’s capacity to cope.

LACHIE JOHNSTONE: Sadly, yes but the continued burden of compliance is not something that our industry carries alone. As a nation, we need to make a concerted effort to significantly reduce compliance for compliance's sake and focus on improvements that actually make everyone better off.

DANI DARKE: declined to answer, as above

ALLISTER BODY: declined to answer, as above

JARED COLLIE: declined to answer, as above

What assurance can you give voters that you will act faithfully in accurately representing grass-roots farmers and their best interests? You are welcome to provide examples.

GEOFF CRAWFORD: My wife and I farm in Northland. It is critical for our survival that we demand the results for strong leadership.We drive for efficiency and cost savings, running our own business to be able to survive. I would bring a hands-on approach as we are the owners of Ballance Co-operative and expect a level of service and cost saving that will make us the most competitive suppliers of food on a Global competitive market. It’s part of Ballance’ role to assist farmers with wealth and prosperity.

KIM LORIGAN: Voters can rely on my integrity and ability to keep advocating the importance of grass roots farmers. My husband and I are dairy farmers, dry stock farmers, wetland developers and pest control advocates. Farmers do so much that is not understood, and not seen or heard by those outside of the industry. They work hard and are productive. This country was founded on farming to improve the future of NZ. That hasn’t changed, society has. If I was elected, I would undertake to ... 1) Improve communication between Ballance, the farming community, and Ballance shareholders. 2) Promote the benefits of farming, outside the farming community – not only illustrating what Ballance is doing but what NZ farmers are doing to improve and enhance both the environment and the wellbeing of NZ. 3) Look to communicate the financial performance of the Co-op clearly to shareholders and ensure this is understood by farmers. The balance of profitability and fertiliser use must be achieved. This alongside environmental focus on our farmland, will support farmers to continue in our industry. I would like to see us assist farmers by encouraging more to be involved in services offered by Ballance and other farming groups to support profitability, and farm succession.

ANDY GRANT: I will act in, what I believe is, the best interests of all Ballance shareholders, if I was fortunate enough to be voted on, across the spectrum of food and natural fibre producers. I have friends involved in corporate agriculture and I also have friends in agri business smaller than ourselves. So I get to discuss / hear a wide range of views. Ballance (as all co-op’s are) ‘by the farmers, for the farmers’ I would really like to see Ballance staff doing their very best to support the farmers with quality products and information, at the best price point, to allow the shareholder’s businesses to thrive and prosper.There are over 15,000 Balance shareholders, I have rung a few that I know about the election. It’s a busy time of year for most of us,s o I don’t have the time to ring even 1%. But many smaller shareholders will be very interested in this and other elections coming up soon. The voting papers have an email address and mobile number on that I can be reached on if anyone would like to ask me any questions. All the very best for this challenging season.

JAMES HOBAN: I know what it’s like to farm with family – the good and the challenging. I understand that most days are workdays and that in order to watch the kids play sport on Saturday or coach their teams there’s extra effort required on Friday and Sunday. Work problems come home at night and we live in our workspace. Debt gets me out of bed in the morning. Conversely, I’m my own boss and our kids are enjoying the best possible rural upbringing. Maria and I had that opportunity, and we are farming to give the same benefits to Alice and William. While it’s the best job imaginable it has unique challenges and it’s not getting easier. I am as grass roots as it gets, and I know what it’s like at the coal face because that’s where I am and where I intend to be for the long term.To me, every shareholder counts – not just the larger ones.

LACHIE JOHNSTONE: Farmers are critical to NZ's wellbeing and to the survival of rural communities. I am supportive of any actions that make both individuals and our rural communities stronger. The benefit of a thriving Co-op that delivers the best products at abetter price, leaner cost structures and an acceptable rebate has got to be good for everyone. We shouldn't lose sight of the reason that Co-ops were originally formed, working together for better outcomes for its shareholders. As well as being a farmer, I have governance experience in Co-ops, Corporate Agriculture, Horticulture, Automation, Education, Ports and Supply Chain. Given the opportunity, I would draw on my previous experiences and do everything possible to ensure that the co-op delivers on its original promise.

DANI DARKE: declined to answer, as above

ALLISTER BODY: declined to answer, as above

JARED COLLIE: declined to answer, as above

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