Tuesday, 29 October 2019 11:55

Women elected to DairyNZ board

Written by  Pam Tipa
Tracy Brown (left) and Elaine Cook. Tracy Brown (left) and Elaine Cook.

Two Waikato dairy farmers were elected to DairyNZ’s board last week.

Tracy Brown is a new member and Elaine Cook was re-elected at the annual general meeting in Hamilton on October 22.

They are two of five farmer-elected directors and three board-appointed directors who contribute to strategy and priorities on behalf of dairy farmers. DairyNZ now has a board of five women and three men.

Chair Jim van der Poel welcomed the directors and acknowledged their role in “playing a key part in setting the future direction of DairyNZ”. 

“As dairy farmers we have always evolved and we are on the cusp of the next phase. We are in a period of increased innovation to build and empower New Zealand dairy farms to be profitable businesses in the most sustainable way.” 

Brown has been leading environmental change for dairy in her roles as DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders chair, Ballance Farm Environment Awards alumni chair and as a Dairy Women’s Network trustee.

“I have been dairying with my husband Wynn on our Waikato farm Tiroroa for 25 years. I have been leading environmental change for a decade, building relationships and empowering farmers to lead and find regional solutions,” Brown said. 

 “We need to drive the delivery of creative solutions and innovation to evolve our farming systems for the future, increasing profitability and lowering our footprint.” 

Brown, originally from Northland, lives near Matamata on the 700 cow, 310ha (240ha milking platform) system three farm ‘Tiroroa’ which won the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award in 2010. 

An AWDT ‘Escalator’ alumnus, she was a finalist in the 2017 Westpac Women of Influence Awards and won a Sustainable Business Network’s ‘Sustainability Superstar’ award in 2018. She was recently appointed by the Cabinet to the Freshwater Independent Advisory Panel.

Brown began in agriculture as an economist at the NZ Meat and Wool Board’s Economic Service. She has a BAgrSci (Hons) from Massey University and is a Kelloggs Rural Scholar (Lincoln University).

Cook and her late husband took the traditional progression through the industry to farm ownership, farming in Waikato and Southland, and going on to win NZ Sharemilker of the Year in 2006.

She has interests in a 300ha family farm in Otautau, Southland, but lives in Waikato with her three daughters. 

“I believe DairyNZ’s role is increasingly vital. As farmers we are innovative and world leading, and we need a framework that links all these great things we do, to tell our story about sustainable and ethical food production,” she said.

“I love dairy farming, am passionate about the industry and helping drive industry objectives to ensure we are farming well into the future.”

Cook has been on the board of Southern Dairy Hub and NZ Young Farmers. Her current and previous governance roles have been with organisations that create value for others in agribusiness, research and innovation, industry good, pastoral dairy farming and education. 

Her corporate career has involved agribusiness, local government, information management, health and safety, and human resources.

Key investments

DairyNZ invested $67.8 million dairy farmer levy payer funds into six key areas driven by the sector’s Dairy Tomorrow strategy. 

Key investment includes R&D in farm systems and environmental sustainability, says chief executive Tim Mackle. 

“Next season, DairyNZ will invest $6.9m in projects which aim to protect and nurture the environment. Within this, DairyNZ has invested significantly in research and on farm studies.

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