Jim van der Poel elected as new DairyNZ chairman following death of Michael Spaans

Van der Poel is a dairy farmer from Ngahinapouri, south of Hamilton and has farming interests in the Waikato, Southland, Canterbury and United States. He is a former director for Fonterra and New Zealand Co-operative Dairies.

He was also an inaugural director on the Fonterra shareholders fund and has won industry awards including the AC Cameron Award, 2002 Nuffield Scholarship, Sharemilker of the Year and Dairy Exporter Primary Performer Award.

He replaces Michael Spaans, who died earlier this week after a long illness.

Van der Poel said Spaans was a skilled, dedicated and passionate chairman for DairyNZ and he planned to continue the vision established for DairyNZ and dairy farmers.

“While I step into this position under sad circumstances, as a board we will continue Michael’s good work – his influence will continue as we develop plans for the future of our industry.”

He said the industry was keen to move ahead under the new industry strategy, Dairy Tomorrow.

“We are looking toward a more collaborative future and we are starting afresh with an updated industry strategy to guide us forward.

“As a board, we will be closely following progress toward our commitments to ensure New Zealand dairy farming has a sustainable future, while retaining competitive and resilient businesses.”

In an interview in 2014, following him stepping down from the Fonterra board, he said being a director required will, drive, competency and capacity.

It meant making big decisions with imperfect information on behalf of Fonterra shareholders.

“You are playing a governance role, governing over a business that’s charged with creating value – both value in the milk price and value in the business itself.”

The van der Poels got their start in the dairy industry as sharemilkers, milking 120 cows on a farm at Mangapiko, west of Te Awamutu. He married wife Sue in 1980.

“That was our first role and we scratched a little bit of equity to try to get our first herd and we got started and it evolved from there,” he said.

The growth in their own dairy business along with the high profile he had established in the industry saw him shoulder tapped for governance roles.

Acting chairman Barry Harris said van der Poel was a strong advocate for dairy farmers and the sector’s future.

“Jim is experienced as a dairy farmer and in governance for our sector. He is particularly keen to ensure dairy farmers continue to be competitive and responsible as we address the current challenges around sustainability, securing a skilled workforce and continuing to produce quality products for the world.”


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