Director elections for Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Western North Island electorate will be held on Friday, March 15. Andrew Stewart from Marton is one of two farmers from the ward to stand and replace outgoing director Kirsten Bryant who is not seeking re-election. Voting papers were posted February 11. Here Stewart gives insight into his background and aspirations for the future.
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2019 and the years beyond are shaping up to be unlike anything we have seen in the past as sheep and beef farmers.

Record meat prices are being hamstrung by stagnant wool prices and a wet early summer has given way to widespread dry conditions across the country.

Casting an eye further afield there is huge disruption overseas which could affect our key export markets, particularly in the Brexit countries and in Trump's America. The threats to our farming businesses have never been so diverse either domestically or offshore.

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As a levy-funded organisation, Beef + Lamb NZ has a crucial role during this time of upheaval. We need representatives in this organisation that are solely focused on the best interests of our farmers, which is why I am standing for the Western North Island directorship.

So why do I feel qualified to best serve this vast region?

My wife Kylie and I farm "Tyrone", a 600-hectare hill country farm in the heart of the Rangitikei region, and centrally located within the B+LNZ Western NI electorate.

Sheep and cattle farming is our primary business but we have also diversified into tourism with Rangitikei Farmstay and event management with "The Mudder" over the past decade.

I have also worked as an agricultural journalist for the past 10 years, writing for Country Wide and Young Country magazines and more recently for NZ Farmers Weekly.

I have always followed with interest the progress of B+LNZ. I believe that because I pay a significant amount of levies for sheep and cattle each year, it is in my best interest to make sure it is spent wisely within the organisation.

In 2017, I was selected to become the inaugural associate director for B+LNZ and served a one year unpaid term in the boardroom. Having experienced the wide range of complex issues facing our sector at all levels, I feel I made valuable contributions in this governance position.

A lifetime of experience as an active sheep and beef farmer combine well with strong written and verbal communication, an analytical mind and governance and leadership experience.

I can make a significant contribution as an elected director if I was to be successful, and I am passionate and motivated to further improve the industry and communities that I work and live in.

"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."