Waipukurau farmer and Silver Fern Farms (SFF) director Angus Mabin is not seeking re-election to the board in anticipation of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

"I will be signing up to the dam - I have a visit to my lawyer tomorrow to facilitate that decision-making process - and I will be a very keen recipient of water, should it go ahead," he said.

"It is a huge opportunity and I need to be home to execute that, because it is a big commitment and it needs to be done right."

With wife Esther he grows bulls on 1000ha south of Waipukurau where they are renowned for their adjoining Taniwha Daffodil operation.


The fourth-generation farm has no irrigation and was originally a sheep farm, then a Hereford stud, a beef and sheep farm, then deer before its current beef operation.

Should the dam not go ahead "it won't be the end of the world" with a planned increase in lucerne. He has no plans to stop farming beef.

"Beef seems to be in a pretty good place and, from my time on the board, I think the pricing is relatively sustainable.

"There'll be ups and downs but materially beef has moved to another place, up where it was four or five years ago.

"There will invariably be other opportunities that come along and I think if you take on water you have to have the mindset to adapt and not get stuck in your ways.

"We'll look at those opportunities as they come along but there is a big picture of a worldwide scarcity of water and the quality and good reputation of New Zealand's food production."

By irrigating his farm it would enable winter feed to be grown, capturing lucrative winter prices.

Growing grass by irrigation over summer, to finish cattle while the meat schedule traditionally fell, "isn't necessarily the right move to make".


"The irrigation will be about securing high-quality young stock, making sure they are grown out well and making sure we have really good winter crops."

With his fellow directors of SFF he promoted the acceptance of China-owned Shanghai Maling's $261 million for a half-share in SFF, New Zealand's largest meat processor. He said there were similar opportunities available to New Zealand.

"They have come here because of our food quality and want our food grown here, processed here, packed here and sent to China with a Made in New Zealand label.

"That provides opportunities right across the board.

"Agriculture is in a fantastic space in New Zealand and that is really why I am coming home."

On the SFF board since 2007, he leaves it on a high - for the year ended September net profit before tax was $27.2 million, up from $1.8 million in 2014, and the Shanghai Maling deal guarantees access to 800 Chinese supermarket and retail stores.