First woman at the top in 118 years
West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne is the first woman in Federated Farmers’ 118-year history to hold the national presidency.
She described the elevation as ‘‘pretty stunning, showing the Feds is a good progressive organisation that is willing to move with the times and take people with the right skills to go forward’’.
Milne succeeds Dr William Rolleston who steps aside after his three-year tenure.
A previous federation board member and West Coast provincial president, Milne was Dairy Woman of the Year in 2015 and is a director of Westland Milk products.
With partner Ian Whitmore, she runs a 200-jersey-cow 125ha farm in the high rainfall-zone of Rotomanu. It receives an average of 3.5 metres of rain a year, and even more in an El Nino year.
Milne said she was never totally confident she would succeed in the vote against vicepresident Anders Crofoot, but felt she had a chance.
‘‘My strengths are the way I
‘‘My strengths are the way I can connect with people.’’ Katie Milne
can connect with people, I’m able to articulate in a clear way to people who don’t necessarily know anything about farming in a way they can actually ‘get it’.
‘‘That’s a valuable asset at the moment as we come up to election, we’ve got plenty of pot shots going at farmers and to help counteract that with some real farmer talk will be useful.’’
Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard was elected national vice president while South Canterbury farmer Miles Anderson takes over as national Meat and Fibre chairman with Rick Powdrell stepping aside.
Waikato farmer Chris Lewis takes over as the federation’s national chairman for the dairy sector, succeeding Hoggard.
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.
Katie Milne, the newly voted national president of Federated Farmers on her Rotomanu, West Coast farm.