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Industry Leaders Join Farm Environment Trust

13 February 2015

Industry Leaders Join Farm Environment Trust

The two new trustees appointed to the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust bring plenty of experience and enthusiasm to the table.

NZFE chairman Simon Saunders says it’s a privilege to welcome Warwick Catto and Bruce Wills to the NZFE Board.

Warwick Catto is Science Strategy Manager for Ballance Agri-Nutrients – the main sponsor of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

Warwick won the Young Farmer of the Year competition in 1995 and chaired the competition’s organising committee from 1996 to 2000. He has been on the BFEA National Winner judging panel since the National Winner programme was introduced in 2011.

Over the last 10 years, he says, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards have grown significantly, evolving into an event of major importance to the primary sector.

“A key benefit of the competition is its power to bring together a wide range of industry stakeholders to debate good farming practice.”

His tenure as a National Winner judge has seen Warwick travel the length and breadth of the country, meeting some of the nation’s top farmers and observing outstanding examples of environmental management.

“These farmers are financially and production-savvy and their economic success is underpinned by an exceptional focus on environmental sustainability.” 

As a trustee for NZFE and a representative of Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Warwick says one of his goals will be to help “protect the core values of the competition while also ensuring it delivers value to the sponsors”.

Simon Saunders says Warwick’s wealth of scientific knowledge and his vast experience in science extension work make him a valuable addition to the NZFE Board.

The other new trustee is Bruce Wills, former president of Federated Farmers of New Zealand. The Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer is a long-time champion of environmental sustainability and an enthusiastic supporter of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“For many years the NZFE Trust has been at the forefront of encouraging and showcasing good environmental practices, and I’m proud to be part of an organisation that is dedicated to helping farmers improve environmental management,” he says. 

Bruce has chaired the East Coast BFEA since the awards were first introduced to the region in 2011. He is also chairman of the New Zealand Poplar and Willow Research Trust and a board member of the QE II National Trust.

He believes farmers and regional councils should take a collaborative approach to environmental management.

“I don’t like seeing farmers chased with a big stick. Farmers and regulators need to work together to achieve good outcomes for landowners and good outcomes for the environment.”

Simon Saunders says the NZFE Board will draw on Bruce’s comprehensive governance experience and political knowledge, and tap into the extensive network of contacts he has accumulated through his time at Federated Farmers. 

“Bruce and Warwick bring a strong environmental ethos and political sensibility to the Board. They are both well-recognised as leaders in their field, and they are not afraid to front the issues surrounding environmental sustainability.”

The other trustees on the NZFE Board are Joanne van Polanen, Ashburton, Andrea Hanna, Te Kuiti, Hew Dalrymple, Bulls, David Cameron, Masterton and Jim Hitchcock, Rotorua.

Graeme Smith recently resigned from the NZFE Board, and Simon Saunders acknowledged the huge contribution he has made to the BFEA and NZFE.

“Graeme’s input has been highly valued.  He’s been a real driving force in promoting the BFEA throughout the regions.