King Country farmer Scott Gower has stepped up to the front line in the battle to keep farming profitable and sustainable after being elected to the Beef + Lamb NZ board.
The third generation hill country sheep and beef farmer from Ohura near Taumarunui beat Marton farmer Andrew Stewart in the election for the farmer representative for the Western North Island ward of B+LNZ and he promises to deliver on his pre-election campaign speeches.
"Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who voted in the election, but I believe that farmers need to be more active in these sorts of things," Gower said.
"There was only a 16 per cent voter turnout for the Western North Island ward. I would also like to acknowledge Andrew Stewart as well - it's healthy for these positions to be contested, and he had a very good campaign. I am looking forward to working with the B+LNZ board and staff on behalf of New Zealand meat producers.
"New Zealand pastoral farming has been under attack for a number of years. We need industry-led organisations that will stand up for our right to be able to produce food profitably now and into the future and can at the same time work cohesively with the regulatory bodies. The B+LNZ board, I believe, is such an organisation."
Gower is well equipped for the job, not only through his expertise in building a profitable farming enterprise in the King Country hills, but also experience gained during a 12-year tenure on the Ravensdown board of directors.
He was elected to the Ravensdown board in 2006 and will retire from that job in September to focus more on B+LNZ issues.
"This was a very steep learning curve for a farmer from the King Country, but 12 years on the Ravensdown board has enabled me to build my governance experience to a very high level. Through Ravensdown I've also been given the opportunity to meet many extraordinary and interesting people in the wider agricultural community, and have developed a strong network outside the farm gate," Gower said.
Like many Kiwi farmers, Gower and wife Robyn have built a wee empire of their own in the King Country hills after a leg up from family.
"My grandfather came up from Whanganui on the paddleboat steamer to Taumarunui, disembarking at the Ohura Falls. He eventually obtained his own block, built himself a punga hut, and set out to develop, farm, and expand his holdings.
"My father took on farming his first block of around 200ha in the Ohura Valley, while taking every opportunity to acquire and develop new properties. With this sort of background, and as my grandmother used to say - we had 'mud in our blood' - I was destined to become a farmer myself.
"With my wife, Robyn, we have grown our own farming business through expansion and development to over 1300ha. High Glades is a breeding, finishing and store property with a ewe flock of about 6000 lambing at over 150 per cent, supported by an Angus beef cow herd.
"High Glades is part of a larger family farming business now comprising over 60,000 sheep and beef stock units, all in the Ohura area.
Obviously pastoral livestock farming, and its profitable and sustainable future, is very important to my family and I.
"In 2002 we became involved in the Meat and Wool NZ Monitor Farm programme, completing a successful four year stint as monitor farmers ourselves. I was then the chairman of the succeeding regional monitor farm for a further three years."