Te Aroha dairy farmer takes over reins as Waikato Federated Farmers president

Andrew McGiven is the new Waikato provincial president of Federated Farmers.

Andrew McGiven is the new Waikato provincial president of Federated Farmers.

Andrew McGiven is the new president of Waikato Federated Farmers after winning the confidence of farmers at the organisation's annual meeting.

McGiven emerged ahead of Huntly farmer Don Colesat the May 11 meeting and replaced Chris Lewis who stood down after three years. Both Coles and McGiven put themselves forward for the president position.

McGiven served as vice-president for the past three years and is a dairy farmer near Te Aroha, who has been in the industry since 1994. McGiven started at the bottom as a dairy assistant before moving to sharemilking, leasing and then to farm ownership.

He has a diploma in agribusiness from AgITO and a Master of Business Administration from Waikato University. He served as chairman on a local board of trustees and has been involved in several other governance positions over the years.

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"The reason I got involved with Federated Farmers about 10 years ago was a growing sense of frustration from behind the farm gate that all farmers were being subjected to a growing sense of inequality from government and councils as well as having to justify our way of life, our existence and our contribution to New Zealand's standard of living," McGiven said.

It was a battle farmers were still fighting.

"We as farmers are constantly under the microscope and we as farmer need to promote good practice, innovative solutions, and sound policy regardless of the emotion and the political games around us."

McGiven said he would work constructively with regulatory groups where possible but was prepared to make a stand on an issue he believed was in the best interest of Waikato farmers.

Te Kui dairy farmer Jacqui Hahn and Hamilton maize grower John Hodge have been elected as provincial vice presidents and will lead Waikato's dairy and arable industry groups respectively.

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Ben Moore and Gaynor Tierney were elected vice-chairmen and women of the dairy section, Doug Chappell is the new sharemilkers chairman and John Numan​ was re-elected sharemilkers employers chairman.

Chris Irons was re-elected chairman of the meat and fibre section with Nigel Anderson as his deputy and Kevin Hickey was re-elected vice-chairman of the arable section.

Outgoing president Chris Lewis made a plea in his final address for farmers to stop attacking other farmers.

"We must resist doing this ourselves. Remember that overseas buyers, government officials and farmers read our media and take great amusement when they see this."

His three years as president had been dominated by the debate around farming and the environment. He said farmers needed to continue to set the agenda of environmental change by showing good standards.

"We are the ones who rely on the clean, green image to sell our products. Farmers are doing their bit, like the drystock farmers who are fencing off huge amounts of land into QEII trusts."

Dairy farmers also had to keep fencing streams as their incomes allowed as this produced environmental outcomes and improve management practices, he said.

He also hit back at advocates pushing for dairy and red meat farming to be replaced by cropping.

"Never mind that quite a bit of New Zealand terrain is not suitable for crops, that crops also need a lot of fertiliser that needs work to stop it getting into groundwater and waterways, that our export markets and earnings will be crippled, that meat and dairy is a critical protein source for many peoples diets and that tens of millions of people enjoy eating meat and dairy."

 - Stuff

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