Dairy NZ Board of Directors Elections 2023
CANDIDATES: Bryan Pedersen, Shane Ardern, Gray Baldwin, Paul Manion, Jim van der Poel, Cameron Henderson, Conall Buchanan, Jason Herrick, Seamus Barden, Jeremy Savage, Jessie Chan, Stu Muir, and James Barron
Groundswell NZ, on behalf of grassroots farmers, emailed all candidates with questions our supporters believe are important. We hope this helps Dairy NZ shareholders to make an informed vote. Below are the collated responses, feel free to share:
Do you support an Emissions Tax on NZ farmers/food producers?
BRYAN PEDERSEN: NO! I am yet to find any factual scientific evidence that NZ Dairy farmers are the problem when it comes to the Emissions debate. I have had the honour of talking to expert Scientists, like Tom Sheahan. “Stating there is more evidence to say we are more likely carbon neutral” and “Methane isn’t a dangerous gas” Methane is broken down easily in atmosphere. Methane is an overstated gas. There are plenty of qualified scientists stating these same facts. BUT they are not getting media coverage. Why?
SHANE ARDERN: No, I do not support an emissions tax on farmers and my record on this is well known with my tractor protest on Parliament steps.
GRAY BALDWIN: No
PAUL MANION: No
JIM VAN DER POEL: Firstly, I do not support Agriculture going into the ETS. Present legislation has Agriculture going into the ETS in2025. This legislation will need to be changed by whoever the new government is to prevent that from happening. I do support all farmers knowing their numbers. By every farmer knowing what their own emissions number is they can then make on-farm decisions that help them reduce their emissions if they choose. They can also compare with their fellow farmers and potentially find efficiencies. All farmers will know their numbers by the end of 2024. I support a national calculator that has one standard measurement. At the moment there are I believe; 12 different calculations being used. With one standard measurement we can track our collective progress. I do support the industry working collaboratively to fund R&D to find mitigations. At this point we appear to be tracking well and there is no need to levy farmers from what I can see.
CAMERON HENDERSON: No
CONALL BUCHANAN: No. Poorly designed taxes that are a simply a penalty on the world’s most emissions efficient pastoral sector makes no sense. Programmes with incentives and penalties that drive positive practical benefits will be more effective.
JASON HERRICK: No, I do not- Why should we penalise the world’s most efficient farmers, that only leads to emissions leakage and the country as a whole being worse off just to appease Ideologists.
SEAMUS BARDEN: I do not support the current proposal for the Emissions Tax on NZ Farmers. However, I do support emissions-based levies as a means of driving the behaviour we need to reduce climate change over the coming years. This should occur across all industries - not just farming. Climate change will impact all areas of our lives. Consumers, and therefore the businesses that service those customers, will call for climate change policies, levies, fees and taxes, so it is likely all industries will see an element of these affecting the way they conduct their business. As an industry, the key is to ensure these taxes or levies are well planned and are a true reflection of our environmental cost (and not part of businesses trying to offload their carbon footprint to farmers). These costs also need to be introduced in a controlled manner with plenty of notice so businesses can adjust to absorb the costs. As we are already amongst the cleanest and most efficient farmers in the world, we do not need to be on the bleeding edge of these policies.However, it would be naive to think we will not have to contribute at some stage, so let's make sure we are at the table helping shape and inform those discussions.
JEREMY SAVAGE: Farmers should be incentivised to improve GHG emissions, not taxed. NZ has a unique profile with 40% of GHG emissions from Agriculture. With good science, management and technology farmers could help NZ achieve the Paris Accord Agreement targets. This is an opportunity for New Zealand, but it has not been recognised. Use a carrot approach, not a stick.
JESSIE CHAN: no reply
STU MUIR: no reply
JAMES BARRON: no reply
IF YES TO ABOVE, please explain why?
JEREMY SAVAGE: Farmers that refuse to get on board and adopt management / technology over time, when the options are available in the future should be taxed. The stick approach for this group of farmers. This should be 5 years down the track.
Do you support the He Waka Eke Noa proposal, or do you think it should be taken back to the drawing board?
BRYAN PEDERSEN: The He Waka Eke Noa proposal, is such a flawed concept, it should be completely scrapped and its replacement, if any, should have a name all farmers understand.
SHANE ARDERN: He Waka Eke Noa was an attempt by the Ag industry to find a compromise with the Government and the Government response overwhelmingly shows that they were not going to meet the farmers on this at all. So no I don’t support He Waka Eka Noa.
GRAY BALDWIN: I support the broad thrust of HWEN, some details need tweaking, but not back to the drawing board. I didn’t like the public lobbying of politicians that BLNZ and DNZ engaged in during HWEN, they should focus on science and solutions. The political stuff could be left to Federated Farmers and Groundswell.
PAUL MANION: I believe it should be taken back to the drawing board.
JIM VAN DER POEL: He Waka Eka Noa has completed the task it was set up to do. It bought 11 sector organisations, plus Federation of Māori Authorities which worked with MPI and MfE to come up with an alternative to Agriculture going into the ETS. That work is now finished. The sector is now working collaboratively to come up with an alternative framework so that any new government after October 14th can remove legislation that has farmers entering the ETS from 2025.
CAMERON HENDERSON: While the original HWEN proposal had broad industry partner support (albeit with great reluctance from some partners) the last two years has seen that proposal debated, politicised, and changed to the point where there is no currently agreed proposal. This situation along with a potential change in government means the HWEN proposal needs to go back to the drawing board. The first question to ask is given processors are making their own plans for emissions management through incentivised targets and that ag emissions are falling without pricing, why do emissions need to be priced at all?
CONALL BUCHANAN: I support the concept of working together to get good outcomes. He Waka Eke Noa does not fit that description. There has been a massive commitment of time and resource to date. Without genuine engagement and good faith participation of government agencies in the future, that effort and money has been wasted.
JASON HERRICK: No, I do not, I do not think it should be taken back to the drawing board either, even though I believe all sectors in rural industries should be working stronger together, I believe HWEN was a ploy that allows the government away with one of the clauses in the Paris accord agreement to cut emissions, as long as it doesn’t affect food production. If you can say it was the farmers idea, they then have plausible deniability and therefore are not liable for the loss in food production that HWEN would have done.
SEAMUS BARDEN: No, I do not support the He Waka Eke Noa proposal; considerable work is required before this is considered.
JEREMY SAVAGE: Five years down the track with an unworkable solution highlights some pretty poor leadership from Central Government and our farming leaders. We need a workable solution. We do not want to end up in the ETS as farmers.
JESSIE CHAN: no reply
STU MUIR: no reply
JAMES BARRON: no reply
What initiatives would you encourage to ensure NZ dairy farmers are more widely recognised as the most emissions efficient producers in the world?
BRYAN PEDERSEN: We need to break the Rural/Urban divide, teach New Zealanders that we are the most energy efficient, green farmers in the world. Our green grass, our vegetables our trees our people require carbon to grow.
Any lift in carbon is a benefit to all of us. Including humans. Carbon will make fools out of the government and its overzealous policies. All schools, need to teach, real science in our schools, not woke faux science, I want to get the correct message to our young people and get outdated environmental nonsense thrown in the bin. Farming needs to be taught as a career choice. Our farming practices, taught with pride in our schools, environmentally stainable farming that grows the best food in the world, a career path suitable for all ranges of academia. WE URGENTLY need to promote the correct science that will advance NZ agriculture, broadcast that and force the Wellington Beehives to move away from accepting United Nations Agenda.
SHANE ARDERN: The one thing Dairy NZ Can do is prove using science and considered research to educate and convince our opposition NZ farmers are the lowest carbon producers of high-quality protein food in the world and promote that fact. A further question that comes from that is, If not Dairy NZ then Who? I think as a director of Dairy NZ I would have a very strong view on all the things that make New Zealand one of the best and most sustainable produces of very high-quality food and challenge those that don’t agree to back their arguments with facts be they Ministers or other NGO’s.
GRAY BALDWIN: Although we are the most efficient producers, it’s global more than local consumers who need to hear about that. It is the dairy companies’ job to sell that fact, not DairyNZ
PAUL MANION: Studies have already shown that dairy farmers in New Zealand are the most efficient producers of milk in the world. I would do a much better job of promoting this fact and advocate the engagement of one of New Zealand's top marketing agencies to develop market awareness. There has been a lot of talk from Fonterra management and government ministers that the markets we supply are demanding climate change and emissions action. Of course, the companies which purchase our milk will continue to ask for more with no added cost. However, I would suggest for the most part that we are essentially commodity traders and no such premium currently exists. Especially as no other country is currently taxing agricultural emissions. I would suggest that we offer a carbon neutral milk program similar to the A2 program. Where farmers can choose to be a part of it and are paid a premium, if it exists, for that product. Applying punitive taxes across the whole industry is not a productive way forward; it will only decrease milk production giving the market the wrong signals, as the most efficient milk producers in the world produce less which will be covered by increase in production by the less efficient producers overseas.
JIM VAN DER POEL: New Zealand dairy farmers are the most efficient producers in the world. Research as confirmed that. That is why I personally but also DairyNZ does not support any policies that will potentially reduce our production here and increase production offshore. That outcome would not only be bad for New Zealand but also bad for the world.
CAMERON HENDERSON: The agricultural emissions story is not understood by the public and we have done little to fix this problem. Our industry groups, as a partnership, should be formulating a robust message that is engaging, factually accurate but not defensive, that tells this story. It needs to include the current world leading efficiency of our products, the facts around methane, and the importance of focusing on warming effect over gross emissions. But it also needs to also state we are willing to always seek to be better and to play our part in addressing long lived emissions. We need to push regulators such as the climate change commission to be more proactive in educating all stakeholders including government on the importance of warming effect over gross emissions.They also need to be pushed to find a better metric for climate change in NZ to replace the popular pie graph that’s shows agriculture as 50% of the problem.
CONALL BUCHANAN: I wrote an extensively published article on this in 2019... Before it was widely recognised.
DairyNZ’s 5th strategy focus includes this, but current execution does not highlight our global status. The role of Governance(directors) includes monitoring performance. On this point performance should be examined closely. I would encourage this part of the strategy to be implemented clearly and effectively. The UN, FAO is clear that efficient food producers should not reduce production that would be replaced by less efficient producers.
JASON HERRICK: Backing from our leaders would be a good start, and promoted and marketed as the best in the world wouldn’t go amiss. Standing up and backing NZ farmers to those so-called customers (we all know that being the big companies who stand to make more from all the ideology) and actually listening to the Consumers, who as a whole want the best quality products at the cheapest price.
SEAMUS BARDEN: We need greater engagement with the urban community and our consumers. People are becoming increasingly removed from the realities of where their food comes from and what is required to make that food. We are facing a world of fake news, half-truths and social media 'experts' who can deliver content to city dwellers without having to back up their claims. To overcome this, we need to bring together our producers, suppliers, DairyNZ and our rural communities to bridge this divide. I would be looking to work with farmers, and everyone involved in the food chain - up to and including our consumers - so we can share the positive story and, as a country, restore the pride in the primary products we produce and consume. I also see an opportunity forDairyNZ to create and supply content to primary and secondary schools throughout New Zealand to educate our younger generation on the positives our primary sector brings to New Zealand and the world. Let's educate our youth so they hold the same level of pride in our industry as we do.
JEREMY SAVAGE: Need to be careful here. We are leading the pack at the moment, but this may not always be the case. We needto keep working proactively to stay ahead of the rest of the world.
JESSIE CHAN: no reply
STU MUIR: no reply
JAMES BARRON: no reply
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.
BRYAN PEDERSEN: YES! It has had a toll on me personally and has affected the farms I run. It’s hard, because I feel the passion for what I do is being driven out of me. Pathetic laptop policy’s that mean nothing but more red tape, financial implications, never a thought to the NZ value being destroyed. It is hard looking around all my green grass and breathing in the fresh air, when on farm we are expected to be working with policies developed in a concrete jungle pumped with filtered air, far from where I farm. These polices are created with little relevance to the grass roots people who work on our best food producing farms in the world. DairyNewZealand needs to rediscover its backbone and needs to remember Dairy Farmers are funding them. As one of our dairy farmers out there doing it every day, I want to represent, our grass roots, gumboot wearing, dairy farmers.
SHANE ARDERN: Yes, a lot of environmental regulations have reached a tipping point, I would go as far as saying it has become idiotic. When a paddock that is being grazed by cattle and a farmer wont’s to develop it to a better standard by draining it and contouring it and He/she is told they cannot because it is a wetland or in one case, I know of it has been described as a river then it is time for change. Never in my forty years of farming has the need for change been grater and if we as farmers don’t lead and drive that change then who will?
GRAY BALDWIN: No. There are a lot of new rules and too many government entities thinking up more. It’s frustrating, but we will get through it. It’s much worse in Europe, witness the poor farmers in the Netherlands.
PAUL MANION: Probably not. Let's be clear that farming will continue with or without new regulations. For some farmers it may be the last straw. However continually piling on new regulations and taxes on a very productive part of our economy who are already world leaders in emissions is madness. Changing New Zealand's emission profile will do absolutely nothing for global climate change, which will continue regardless. We have the potential to send ourselves broke and ruin people's livelihoods chasing an unobtainable climate nirvana while the world's large emitters such as China, the USA and India march on .
JIM VAN DER POEL: Yes, I do believe that regulations introduced recently are both excessive and often impracticable. These are having a negative impact on farmers businesses as well as farmers wellbeing. This is supported by the View from the Cowshed survey that showed 72% of farmers felt regulations introduced were impracticable and 69% felt there were too many changes coming at once.
I support DairyNZ’s call for an independent regulatory review panel that consists of experienced farmers who can give guidance before new policies are introduced.
CAMERON HENDERSON: The current government has been eager to centralise environmental management through a wave of regulations on farming. Many of these have been rushed, with limited consultation and with little thought given to implementation.Label them what you like – unworkable, expensive, ideological – the end result is policy that causes a lot more pain than good. No farmer will debate the need for improved environmental outcomes, but policy development needs to involve the community that will implement it and within timelines that prioritises quality policy over quick policy.
CONALL BUCHANAN: Any unworkable regulation is inexcusable. It is a handbrake on our country, people and economy. It leads to a dangerous place where Kiwis start to ignore regulation. History shows that leads to disaster. There must be change. I’ve spent time in 2nd and 3rd world countries where some people do what they can, rather than what they should. We don’t want NZ sliding to that sort of society.
JASON HERRICK: Yes, well past the tipping point, I do a lot in the mental health space as a volunteer, because I have been to the bottom of the cliff so to speak, and it was because of the over regulation and public perception bought onto the rural sector by our leaders and the media, destroying the image of the industry that I love and enjoy. It is very quickly becoming not so attractive anymore and I want to help change that.
SEAMUS BARDEN: Yes, I believe the current government has produced a series of environmental regulations which are difficult to implement. Our current government appears to be prepared to build policy without meaningful engagement with the required stakeholders or understanding the outcome these policies will drive. I refer to this as Facebook politics, by which I mean putting forward policies or regulations that will trend well on social media. I always say show me how someone is incentivised, and I will show you how they behave. The voting base for our MPs and current government is urban, and urban dwellers do not understand farming. We have a proud tradition of producing some of the finest produce in the world, and we need to be better at telling that story. Regulations are a fact of life. The key is to ensure we are sitting at the table with power and influence behind our voice to ensure we are heard. How do we do that? We do it with building meaningful relationships with our supply chain and consumers. We need to focus on the cities. Our rural communities already know what an excellent job we are doing, now, we need to share the facts with the rest of New Zealand.
JEREMY SAVAGE: The mental strain is the big issue. A great deal of the legislation has been to complex, with local government interpretation of it being pretty unwieldy. It needs to be simpler, farmer friendly compliance that does not take a professional to fill out forms for farmers – which is where the expectations of local / central government is heading not.
JESSIE CHAN: no reply
STU MUIR: no reply
JAMES BARRON: no reply
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.
BRYAN PEDERSEN: I am a proud groundswell coordinator, and I am confident I will always act on the behalf of Kiwi dairy farmers. I have the support of my fellow groundswell coordinators, Bryce and Laurie. I come from a family of farmer-based lobbyists and strong farmer advocates. I am hands on when it comes to dairy farming, and I am confident of my deep understanding of what our grassroots farmers need. I am just as confident in the board room, debating for what is right for the future of kiwi dairy farming. I am not a yes man that goes with the flow. I am strong and direct and straight to the point. We are successful farmers, I don’t need this job, I‘d do it for free because I believe I have a voice that is currently unrepresented in Dairy NZ.
SHANE ARDERN: I have been farming for over forty years as a sharemilker /Landowner and now I have two sons and their wives and family trying to pay the bills at a time when we have had a doubling of interest rates in an unprecedented time frame, A $2.50drop in milk solids per K/G and an on farm inflation rate of 15%. A triple blow, our farming business has no future and few farming business do without change. If I wasn’t determined to represent the dairy farmers to the best of my ability, then what other motive could I have? I was the MP for Taranaki King County for 16.5 years and became known as the farmer for farmers. The list of examples of my representation of the farming community are too many to list but a few examples include the formation of Fonterra, the opposition to the fart tax, My involvement in the changes to biosecurity law, and immigration policy for essential workers. There are many more but the point I would make, is that a lot of this stuff had strong opposition and it wasn’t carrier enhancing for me to hold such strong positions on some of this stuff at the time against the wishes of the leadership of my party/Caucus. I have the reputation of being a farmer for farmers and I would do it again. I have no political motive in this election other than to see much needed change for our dairy farmers and to return the New Zealand dairy industry to its rightful place as a totally sustainable world class producer.Economically, socially, and environmentally. There is much said about me on google, u tube, Wikipedia and so on - we have been very innovative in farming with the reported fastest cowshed in New Zealand, Halter fenceless farming, innovative effluent management. I have the experience the energy and the Parliamentary knowledge, plus an extensive network of officials and farming leaders which I can call on when needed. Help me to help you by voting a farmer to help farmers in the Dairy NZ Elections. There are 13 candidates standing in this election which I believe is unprecedented and will make the decision for voters challenging. It is an indication of the desire for change and very good for democracy.
GRAY BALDWIN: DairyNZ levy payers include grass roots, corporates, government owned, charitable, investment fund and overseas farmers. I do not regard any group more important than others. My approach to governance is holding management to account, helping develop strategy and scrutinising risk.
PAUL MANION: I would describe myself as grass roots, I am an owner operator of a 270 cow farm, I milk every day and have worked my way up this great industry from the bottom. I am not beholden to anyone and have no other interests outside my Dairy farm and co-op shares. Essentially, I am all in on dairy farming for my and my family's future.
JIM VAN DER POEL: The best way for me to show I will always work in farmers best interests is the stand on my record. As an industry we are known around the world as being world leading in producing safe, high-quality pasture based dairy products. World-leading animal care and continuing to improve and support our rural communities and the environment we operate in. I always have and will continue to work with progressive farmers as we move toward that future to maintain our world leading approach.The key is always to do that in a way that supports our rural communities and way of life as we introduce new technologies and standards into our farming businesses. I am always happy to be contacted directly on 021 848484 if there is anything in here any farmer wish to discuss.
CAMERON HENDERSON: I have been working to achieve better outcomes for farmers for more than 10 years. In Canterbury I have spent many years providing the farmers perspective as a member of zone and regional policy committees as ECan developed its nutrient management policy. The result, while not without is challenges and speed bumps, has set a path for improvement in water quality that has is practical and achievable. I continue this work as the policy develops and co-founded our Landcare Group to ensure farmers are well supported and have local solutions. In reference to Question 5, the National Policy Statement for FreshwaterManagement is bad policy that could derail all the great work in Canterbury to date. Throughout the HWEN process I was the only working farmer at the negotiation table. I fought hard for practical outcomes and effective incentives which was difficult when they process itself was flawed. I am not supportive of pricing emissions nor were many of the other partners, but the alternative was being immediately thrown into the ETS in 2017, which would have been devastating to the industry. Here we are in late 2023 with no emissions pricing on ag emissions and a commitment from both major parties to not put us in the ETS. So while some might seeHWEN as an industry failure, it was never about a willingness to price emissions, I saw it was an exercise in demonstrating how difficult it would be to reduce emissions without crippling communities and the country economically. I say this not to gain support for HWEN but to show that getting good policy outcomes for farmers in a complex political context often requires taking strategic rather than popular action. HWEN was certainly far from a perfect process and there were many lessons. One of my many learnings through HWEN was the damage caused by not fully explaining to farmers what we were trying to achieve and listening to their perspectives. If elected to DairyNZ I will ensure this doesn’t happen again.
CONALL BUCHANAN: People have shown trust by electing me to positions of leadership and representation in farming communities and organisations throughout my life. I have stood against the tide when I felt it was important. Particularly; 1) as National Sharemilker Chair resurrecting the Sharemilker of the Year competition, contact negotiations and aspects of the formation of Fonterra. 2) as a land user representative on the Group making the Spatial Plan for the Hauraki Gulf.
JASON HERRICK: I have proven my dedication and passion for this industry, with my desire to help others in the mental health space, as well as the advocacy work I have done in my time in southland federated farmers around staff shortages, especially over the covid period and winter grazing. Doing what is right and not what is easy is my mantra, and I call a spade a spade. Common sense needs to be bought back into fashion, and unless we change the direction of our leadership groups, we are going to continue getting the same results.
SEAMUS BARDEN: It is impossible to appease all farmers all the time. This is the reality when you have a diverse range and large number of people involved in any organisation. But what I can assure you is that I am grassroots. I co-own a farm, which I hope will provide a future income for my family and a legacy for them to continue long after I am gone. I take pride in the fact I am part of an industry producing a meaningful product for the world. I want my children, friends, and family to hold their heads high and be proud of what we are part of. Like most grassroots farmers, I see our farm as inter-generational. As a Board member, I will be open to discussing farmers' issues and challenges and will work hard to achieve positive outcomes for our framing community.
JEREMY SAVAGE: Have been running the SIDDC/LUDF focus farm for the past 5 years. Farmers have had plenty of opportunities appreciate my values and expectations.
Have spent the last 3 years dealing with a Water Conservation Order process with Te – Wai koro Pupu springs. Representing our farmers and community. The farmers voice was well received by the Environment court. My evidence to the court, highlighting how farm management and science can remedy the risks while keeping farmers profitable and viable was also well received by the judges.
JESSIE CHAN: no reply
STU MUIR: no reply
JAMES BARRON: no reply