Farmers elect new dairy chairman
Former Federated Farmers Waikato president Chris Lewis has been elected the organisation’s new national dairy chairman.
The dairy farmer from Pukeatua, south of Hamilton, was voted into the position by members at the organisation’s national conference in Wellington on Wednesday. He has served as national vice-president in the dairy section for three years and replaces Andrew Hoggard in the role.
He will join a new look board for the organisation with Miles Anderson replacing Rick Powdrell as the new meat and fibre chairman and Guy Wigley was reappointed as arable chairman.
A new national president and vice-president will be elected on June 22.
Looking ahead, Lewis said the dairy section was working on a new dairy strategy, which would be released in October.
Animal welfare would also be an issue with calving due to begin shortly.
‘‘There will be an increased spotlight on that again I suspect, but hopefully for the right reasons, showing that farmers are doing a great job.’’
Dairy farming and its effect on the environment and water quality also looked to be hot topic for the coming election. Dairy farmers had to keep showing the work being done to protect and improve waterways and explain to the non-farming sector how this work improved water quality.
‘‘But we also have to be realistic. Farmers still have a long way to go, we’re on a journey, but we have made really good progression on that journey. It’s about having that upfront, frank conversation.’’
Being on Federated Farmers’ national board means Lewis will be allocated roles as spokesman in other areas once the board is fully elected and meets for the first time.
While the positions have yet to be made, Lewis said he was interested in issues farmers faced around employment and ensuring there were pathways for people to get into farming as a career as well as allowing farmers to use immigrants as staff if necessary.
Lewis said he would work closely with the organisation’s sharemilking section to make sure it remained the most credible path to achieve farm ownership in New Zealand.
Chris Lewis is the new national dairy chairman for Federated Farmers.