Gore farmer next Beef+Lamb New Zealand chairman

James Parsons won't seek re-election.
James Parsons won't seek re-election.

Gore farmer Andrew Morrison will take over as chairman of Beef+Lamb New Zealand next year.

Yesterday, James Parsons announced he had chosen not to seek re-election in March, after nine years on the board, saying the time was right for "fresh leadership''.

Mr Morrison had been unanimously supported by the board to take over the position. There had been a thorough succession process over the past 18 months so Mr Morrison - who is southern South Island director - was well prepared for the role, Mr Parsons said.

Constitutionally, his appointment required a vote of the board immediately following the organisation's annual meeting on March 22, and that would include one and potentially two new directors who had not been part of the board's succession discussions.

Mr Parsons took over as chairman in 2014, when Mike Petersen stood down and was appointed New Zealand Special Agriculture Trade Envoy.

He was first elected to the board, as northern North Island director, in March, 2009 just as B+LNZ led into the six-yearly commodity levy referendum about the organisation's future.

"The strong "vote no'' campaign, sparked by several groups of farmers, was a baptism by fire to farmer politics. The outcome was a narrow mandate to continue levy investment in beef and sheep meat, but to put a stop to efforts with wool.

"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,'' he said.

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, connections with farmers were strengthened and B+LNZ became "far more relevant'', he said.

It had a strong and capable board, which left him confident in its ongoing governance on behalf of farmers, and B+LNZ would work hard "to drive really tangible outcomes for farmers''.

Mr Parsons looked forward to leading the board for the final four months of his term, which would include engaging closely with the new Government, completing consultation on a Government Industry Agreement on biosecurity readiness and launching B+LNZ's "natural red meat sector story''.

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