Lewis stepped down from Feds in July after a 17-year stint, which included chairing the dairy section and serving on the national board as the immigration spokesman.
“During my time farming I have worked to improve the outcomes for farmers by being involved in the issues at the coal face,” Lewis told Dairy News.
“This is my primary reason for seeking election as a DairyNZ director.
“Bringing a farmer’s perspective at board level has served me well in previous roles, developing strong governance skills that enable me to advocate on their behalf and in turn adds value in the primary sector.”
He says, with skills forged at Federated Farmers, he always fights to enable primary producers to farm.
“I am a proud farmer, and proud of everyone in our rural communities, and believe in doing what is right, no matter how hard the task may be in front of us.”
With wife Caroline and children Olivia and Daniel, Lewis runs a 500ha farm – 360ha running cows and 140ha as drystock/arable business.
He also owns a drystock farm near Te Awamutu in partnership with his parents. Lewis’ father Sam Lewis chairs the Affco board.
Lewis comes from an intergenerational farming family, active since 1863 in NZ.
He was raised on a sheep and beef farm near Otorohanga, went dairy farming for the opportunities via the farm cadet scheme and worked his way up to farm ownership.
“Existing key relationships are so important in our sector, and I have developed these across local and central government – and importantly farmers.
“My passions and focus on the dairy industry are people, fully staff teams, environment, RMA, biosecurity, profitability, and a robust dairy strategy that will ensure that we have an industry we are all proud of and tell our stories strongly.
“My bottom lines are economic, environmental, practical, sensible, and of course strong engagement and relationships with farmers/sharemilkers/staff working across agriculture.”
Lewis says the ability to listen carefully, understand where people are coming from, and having the courage to be forthright when needed, are qualities he values in himself.
“Sometimes we need to challenge the status quo.”
DairyNZ’s electe directors hold office for three years. This year, directors Elaine Cook and Tracy Brown are retiring by rotation.
Both are standing for re-election.
Nominations from candidates should have been received by the Returning Officer by Monday, September 5.
DairyNZ board chair Jim van der Poel says it’s a challenging but rewarding and important time to be part of the sector and its leadership.
“With exceptionally strong milk prices, dairy continues to play a critical role in New Zealand’s prosperity and overall wellbeing,” says van der Poel.
“At the same time, farmers are also facing a number of challenges, including rising costs, staff shortage and challenging regulations.
“Our farmers are currently the most sustainable milk producers in the world but also know that to maintain that position they will need to continue to evolve.”
Van der Poel says DairyNZ is in a unique position to support dairy farmers with extension and research, and to advocate on behalf of farmers to influence future policy decisions.