Beef and Lamb New Zealand southern South Island director
Leon Black will step down after he completes his second
three-year term in March next year, to spend more time with
wife Wendy (pictured), his children and the stud farm
Blackdale. Photo by Yvonne O'Hara.
Leon Black is hanging up his gumboots as Beef and Lamb
New Zealand's southern South Island director to spend more time
with his family and farm.
He and wife Wendy are part of the family-owned successful
Blackdale Stud, a 328ha sheep stud with 5000 fully recorded
stock units, including Coopworths, straight Texels, Suftex,
Texel-Coopworths and Textras. Mr Black has decided to resign
from the BLNZ directorship when his second current three-year
term ends in March next year.
''I am generally away seven to 10 days a month and it is
pretty hard for Wendy. She has the farm to run and five kids
to organise. I want to thank her for holding the fort.''
The couple have four children: Jessica (16), Daniel (14),
Olivia (11) and Maggie (6) as well as Hannes, a 17-year-old
exchange student from Germany whom he considers his fifth
''Also, seeking out new clients [for the stud] has been on
the back burner.''
He said once he had completed his term, new blood would be
required to take his place and he would be available to offer
advice on key activities in the industry.
''I used to ring [former BLNZ director] Jeff Grant for the
first year or two.
''It has been a privilege and a challenge to be the
representative for the southern South Island.
''The job comes with long hours and frustrations, and you
make personal sacrifices, and I am well over early plane
rides, but it is a job that needs doing. But I get to engage
with a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life.
''It certainly helps with my knowledge and understanding of
the wider industry.''
He said he had worked with a dedicated team from BLNZ from
around the country, all of whom had a passion for the sheep
and beef industry.
He will also relinquish his positions on the boards of Ovita,
the New Zealand Meat Board, the Tri-lamb group, and the
Pasture Greenhouse Gas Consortium, and, once that happens, he
might ''take a breather''.
He is also on the Aparima High School board of trustees and
was a director of AgITO until last year before its change to
PrimaryITO. Meat and wool advocacy, education, investment,
on-farm improvement, and line procurement have been key
focuses for Mr Black.
He said farmers were grumpy and frustrated at the volatility
of returns, no stability of prices, and the need for improved
lines of procurement.
''Unfortunately, we have got quite a divergence in meat and
wool marketing systems.
''There are lots of different ownerships with different
''My view [is] that we shouldn't have to legislate to develop
good market structures, except where there are obvious
failures in the system.''
While dairy farmers know what price they will receive for
their product, which allows them to plan, sheep farmers have
no idea what price they will get, making it harder to budget,
and harder for banks to back them.
One of the more exciting developments in the industry under
way at the moment is BLNZ's proposed merger of Ovita, Sheep
Improvement Ltd (SIL), and the Central Progeny Test (CPT)
into Beef and Lamb Genetics. The merger is to lift the
profitability of New Zealand's sheep and beef farms, through
enhancement of genetic evaluation services and tools, plus
faster genetic gain and increased profits.
''The accumulated lift in profitability through genetics.
It's a no-brainer,'' he said.
Funding is coming from the Government, industry investors and
BLNZ levies, which means levy payers are likely to be voting
on the proposal later in the year.
One of the things he is most proud of that was his
involvement with the BLNZ's Farmer Council, which has six
regional divisions and provides leadership at local and
regional levels to improve profitability and sustainability
of the sheep and beef farming industry.
He would like to see a continued emphasis on best practice,
profitability, partnership investment, price stability and
line procurement and some form of co-ordinated market
behaviour, all of which are designed to add value to the