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Ravensdown Board of Directors Elections 2023

Groundswell NZ

Ravensdown Board of Directors Elections 2023

QUESTIONS TO CANDIDATES (South Island only) being: Jane Montgomery, Arron Stark and Simon Davies

Groundswell NZ, on behalf of grassroots farmers is taking an interest in the Ravensdown Board of Director elections. 

We thank the candidates for taking part in our questionnaire, which we hope will help farmers make an informed vote about who will represent them best on the board.   Please see below the compiled answers.


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

JANE: I’d prefer that there isn’t a tax, but it’s happening. We can try to influence when and how it is implemented so that it is as fair as possible.  In addition, businesses such as Ravensdown can focus on developing tools to allow farmers to measure and reduce emissions, so that the burden of tax on farmers is not as high as it might otherwise be without these tools.  


SIMON: No, I do not support an emissions tax on NZ farmers/food producers.However, I would support taxation incentives for the adoption of emissions mitigations, as and when, they become available, providing the mitigations are commercial viable. This is an area where Ravensdown may have a strong role to play.


IF YES TO ABOVE, please explain why?

JANE: as above


SIMON: as above


Do you believe the worlds most emissions efficient food producers should be taxed if it will lead to a decrease in their food production?

JANE: The affluent overseas customers of NewZealand food and fibre are asking New Zealand producers to address the issue of missions reduction. If we don’t, and if we’re not seen to be addressing the issue, they will buy from elsewhere.   We can’t afford that to happen. Ravensdown and others must invest in good science to develop tools and products which mitigate emissions but maintain productivity. We will be left behind in our overseas markets if we don’t do this.

ARRON: No, food production has been key to civilization surviving and most of the wars in history have been over food.

SIMON: No. But as mentioned above if commercially viable, emissions mitigations become available then I believe that these should be adopted as widely as possible. Adoption of these mitigation technologies may well have additional benefits to food producers beyond just a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.


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.

JANE:  The pace of regulatory impositions has been fast, and it is not surprising that many are finding it too fast and too hard. This message has been passed back to Wellington by many in the primary sector both formally and informally.

ARRON: Yes, all I would have to do is point to winter grazing rules in southland or the biodiversity regulations in Canterbury. It’s pushed most farms past breaking point.

SIMON:Yes, I do believe that the level of legislative change is unprecedented. Some of which has been, and is unworkable, predominately due to a rushed approach to implementation in unrealistic timeframes. This wave of legislative change is applying considerable mental and, in some cases, financial stress to farmers.   The agricultural industry has always evolved.In this case the sector needs time to develop strategies and systems to achieve the desired outcomes from this legislation. Some of the legislation will require amendments, and farmers and their systems will adapt, but this requires time. I believe that the farming sector can achieve the desired outcomes of much of this legislation, however it needs time for change and adoption.


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

JANE: A company director is required by law to actin the best interests of the company, not in the best interests of individual shareholders or groups of shareholders. That said, it is important that the business understands its farmer customers, and that the board ensures that the company’s strategy reflects farmers’ needs now and in the future.  The board gives to management feedback received from shareholders and oversees management’s implementation of strategy. For my part, I engage with other farmers often and am easily contactable if shareholders have particular concerns or comments.

ARRON: I’m a farmer. I have managed aground spreading operation and have talked to many farmers that have had the same issues. I have also happily supplied my number to all shareholders and encourage them to reach out to me, so we can have conversations around their concerns. This can ensure I am correctly advocating for them and the real issues we all face not just the ones I experience as we are a collective.

SIMON:  As an active owner operator farmer I am one of those grass roots farmers. I understand the implications for farmers and so when I am representing the best interests of farmers, I am also representing my own best interests. I would like to use the example of winter grazing consents in Otago.While this was an unwanted process, it has been legislated as law for any winter grazing over 10° slope. I knew this regulation would capture my operation. Therefore through my role as Otago Federated farmers president I was instrumental in making the consent process as simple and practical as possible for me and all Otago farmers. Considerable input was given to the Otago Regional Council during the development and implementation process. As a result in Otago the winter grazing consent process (while frustrating and unwanted) is relatively simple and cost effective. For those farmers who have now got a consent, they know they are compliant for this activity for the duration of their consent.


How will you help protect sensible fertiliser use from over-regulation or taxes?

JANE:  I have always considered that Ravensdown has a part to play provide legislators with relevant, science based, practical information to give us the best chance possible of good policy. Only by being involved can Ravensdown do its best for shareholders to make sure that decisions are based on sound science and the practical realities of farming.  The business has done that in the past and I shall be expecting that practice to continue.

ARRON: I intend to be the voice of reason around the board table and push a strong voice for grass roots farmers. Drawing on years of experience and knowledge on the industry, it also helps that I still get dirt on my boots regularly.

SIMON:An obvious role for Ravensdown to show leadership in this space. This leadership role should include:-Promotion and adoption of sensible fertiliser use; Utilize science to show need for addition of nutrients to ensure sustainable food production;  Show the need for modern food production yields, which require fertiliser to achieve , in terms of world food security;  Advocate on the importance of nutrient management,  including replacement, to ensure a successful primary sector;  Advocate to central government that a successful primary sector brings stability and considerable wealth the NewZealand economy.                                                                         Once again, this topic can be led by the sector, farmers and fertiliser companies.The best strategy to avoid regulation and taxation is to ensure the sector is leading progress towards desired outcomes, in this case sensible fertiliser use.

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