Leadership Promoted At Dairy Environment Forum


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Sir William Gallagher addressing a group on Learning from Leaders.

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE) is delighted with the success of its recent Building Dairy Environment Leaders forum.

Run by NZFE for industry good organisation DairyNZ, the annual forum builds leadership qualities by giving top dairy farmers access to leading environmental and business leaders.

This year’s event was held in Hamilton from November 29 to December 1.

Forum chairman and Putaruru dairy farmer Martin Bennett described the event as “wonderful”.

He said the 52 participants included former winners of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Dairy Industry Awards and the Young Farmer of The Year competition.

“These people are at the top end of farming and doing a good job for their industry. The aim of the forum isn’t to tell them how to run their farms because they are obviously doing a great job of that already. Instead it’s all about looking at the big picture in terms of financial, environmental and social sustainability, with the goal of capturing the talent of these farmers and helping them develop into active regional champions.”

DairyNZ Strategy and Investment Leader Dr Rick Pridmore said the theme of this year’s forum was ‘getting more, from less’.

“This is the important challenge for our industry. It is going to take dedication to solve some of the complex sustainability issues we face, and we are going to need leaders like the people who came through this forum.”

NZFE Trust chairman Jim Cotman said the success of the forum, which has been running for five years, is due to the support provided by a number of enthusiastic supporters.

“This collaboration includes DairyNZ funding and personnel, an organising committee ably led by Martin Bennett, and the participation of dairy farmers who show they ‘do care’ about environmental issues.”

He also acknowledged the support of the many “fantastic” speakers and other business leaders who willingly gave their time and knowledge.

The Raglan farm of former Ballance Farm Environment Award winners David and Nicola Peacocke was used as a case study for the forum.

Mr Cotman said this farm is a great model of sustainable farming in a challenging location. Waingaroa Harbour Care’s Fred Litchwark added further inspiration, discussing how people in the catchment have successfully worked together for a common cause.

Other speakers at the forum included economic commentator Bernard Hickey, Sir David Carruthers, Chairman of the New Zealand Parole Board, Cawthron Institute senior scientist Jim Sinner and Peter Bodecker, chief executive officer of the NZ Seafood Industry Council.

Mr Cotman said Fonterra general manager Bruce Donnison provided a stimulating address on Fonterra’s focus on long-term environmental sustainability for its farmers.

Also at the forum were Australian dairy farmers Malcolm Holm and Jenny Wheeler, who gave some interesting insights into some of the issues Australian farmers face, with water accessibility being one of the biggest challenges.

Mr Cotman said the forum was supported by an outstanding list of local leaders from across the business and tertiary spectrum.

“These people provided a one-on-one opportunity for forum participants to explore just what it takes to be a leader.”

For more information on the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust or the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, or email .

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