Parsons not seeking B+LNZ re-election next March

James Parsons, B+LNZ chairman.
James Parsons, B+LNZ chairman.

James Parsons, Beef + Lamb NZ chairman, has announced that he will not seek re-election, when his term expires at the end of March 2018.

After 12 years on the board and seven years as chair, he feels the time is right for fresh leadership.

“We have a strong and capable board, which leaves me confident in the ongoing governance of B+LNZ on behalf of farmers,” he says in his latest Chairman’s Update.

Parsons was first elected to the board in 2009 just just as the organisation led into the six-yearly Commodity Levy Referendum about the organisation’s future. A strong “Vote No” campaign, sparked by several groups of farmers, was a baptism by fire to farmer politics for him.

“The outcome was a narrow mandate to continue levy investment in beef and sheepmeat, but a stop to wool,” he says. “This was obviously a real low point for the organisation, but also something that helped define us. We recognised we were out of touch with farmers and not communicating the value their levy organisation provided.”

Over the next six years, thanks to a concerted effort by the whole organisation and strong assistance from more than 100 B+LNZ Farmer Council volunteers, he says the organisation strengthened its connections with farmers and became far more relevant.

“I inherited a solid organisation, when the board elected me as B+LNZ’s Chairman in 2014, following the retirement of Mike Petersen. This was later reflected in the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum, when 85 percent of participating farmers voted for B+LNZ to continue investing levies on their behalf.”

With a fresh strategy developed this year, B+LNZ will be working hard over the next few years to drive really tangible outcomes for farmers.

“This will include telling our natural Red Meat Sector Story domestically and internationally. We will be engaging much more strongly with the public of New Zealand and government, to build trust and credibility in the sector’s stewardship of nearly 40 percent of New Zealand’s land estate and waterways. We will also be assisting farmers with their on-farm productivity through using smarter inputs. These and many other activities all flow back to our vision and passionate focus on building thriving rural communities.”

Andrew Morrison of Gore, our Southern South Island Farmer Director, has been supported unanimously by the board to take over the chair when Parsons retires next year. This will require a vote of the board immediately after the B+LNZ Annual Meeting on 22 March.

“This has been a thorough succession process over the last 18 months, so Andrew is well prepared for the role,” says Parsons, who is looking forward to leading the board for the final four months of his term. This will include engaging closely with the new Government, completing consultation on a Government Industry Agreement on Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA) with farmers and launching the natural Red Meat Story.

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to represent farmers over the last nine years and I’m grateful to all the individuals who have provided support and encouragement during that time,” says Parsons.

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