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Breaking Through The Grass Ceiling In The Agriculture Sector

Breaking Through The Grass Ceiling In The Agriculture Sector

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS - West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne’s election as Federated Farmers president was notable for several reasons. Obviously, Milne became the first woman to win the job in the group’s 118-year history and emphasised the increasing role women are playing in what were once male-dominated leadership roles in the sector.

As reported in The Main Report Farming Alert Milne defeated Vice-President Anders Crofoot. A sitting vice-president usually succeeds a retiring president but Crofoot, a sheep and beef farmer who has served six years on the national board, faced a challenge from Milne. It’s the rst time the presidency has been contested since Southland sheep and beef farmer Don Nicolson was succeeded by Bruce Wills, a Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer, in 2011. Previously the presidency had not been contested for 15 years.

Milne, who runs a dairy farm in the high rainfall zone of Rotomanu on the West Coast, was recently elected deputy chairwoman of Westland Milk Products and is a former Dairy Woman of the Year and 2015 Rural Woman of Inuence.

Besides elevating a woman to the presidency for the rst time, the race meant endorsing one set of skills and dispensing with another. No matter who won, the feds’ leadership team had to lose the high-calibre talents of a well-regarded farmer.

Crofoot, reputed to have a air for innovation, strong business skills and a high regard for the role of science, moved his family to NZ from New York 15 years ago to farm Wairarapa’s Castlepoint Station. He owns Castlepoint Holiday Park & Motels and is a director of NZ Yarns and chairman of the Fertiliser Quality Council.

Crofoot seems to have become a victim of a sentiment among some provincial presidents, who elect the board, for wholesale changes at the top level. Giving a dairy farmer the presidency after three successive sheep and beef farmers was another consideration. Now the feds have dairy farmers in both top jobs.

Trans Tasman’s sister publication, The Main Report Farming Alert, is a weekly source providing you with in-depth news, analysis and opinion on NZ’s agriculture sectors.

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