Two farmers elected onto DairyNZ board

23 October 2019

Two dairy farmers, Tracy Brown and Elaine Cook, were elected onto DairyNZ’s Board at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Hamilton on Tuesday, October 22.

The Waikato-based dairy farmers are two of five farmer-elected DairyNZ directors and three board-appointed directors who contribute to DairyNZ’s strategy and priorities on behalf of dairy farmers.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel welcomed the directors and recognised the role they will play in the dairy sector going forward.

“I welcome Tracy Brown and returning director Elaine Cook to the board,” said Mr van der Poel. “These directors will play a key part in setting the future direction of DairyNZ.

“As dairy farmers we have always evolved and we are on the cusp of the next phase. We are in a period of increased innovation to build and empower New Zealand dairy farms to be profitable businesses in the most sustainable way.”

This year’s AGM focused on DairyNZ’s highlights and key activities during the 2018/19 dairy season – which for DairyNZ included the investment of $67.8 million dairy farmer levy payer funds into six key areas driven by the sector’s Dairy Tomorrow strategy.

Key investment includes research and development into farm systems and environmental sustainability. “Next season, DairyNZ will invest $6.9m into projects which aim to protect and nurture the environment. Within this, DairyNZ has invested significantly in research and on-farm studies. Thanks to this work, we now know forage crops, such as plantain, greatly reduce nitrogen loss from soils. And that protecting wetlands and critical source areas are key, among many other results.”

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle shared key work areas for the industry good organisation which included work in Mycoplasma bovis, climate change and numerous research projects.

“The Tararua Plantain Project launched in 2018 is a new approach to fast-track solutions through simultaneous research. DairyNZ scientists are working with local farmers on this project, which capitalises on research findings from our Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching programme which identified that New Zealand-bred plantain cultivars reduce soil nitrogen (N) concentration under cows’ urine patches,” said Dr Mackle. “This allows plants to take up a greater proportion of N, reducing N leaching.

“In 2018/19 DairyNZ also completed stage one of Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC). This 18-month work programme includes commitments to build capability of rural professionals through training courses, raising farmer awareness and undertaking greenhouse gas pilot case studies on dairy farms.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, results of several AGM resolutions were also announced. These included the ratification of long-time board-appointed director Helen Anderson for one year, and a resolution on director remuneration.

For more information on DairyNZ’s Annual Report, future investment priorities and AGM results, visit

About DairyNZ
DairyNZ is a levy-funded organisation which invests dairy farmers’ money into a wide range of programmes including research and development to create practical on-farm tools, leading on-farm adoption of good practice farming, promoting careers in dairying and advocating for farmers with central and regional government.

Two new directors for DairyNZ

Tracy Brown

Tracy has been involved with leading environmental change for dairy through her roles as DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders chair, Ballance Farm Environment Awards Alumni chair and as a Dairy Women’s Network trustee.

“I have been dairying with my husband Wynn on our Waikato farm ‘Tiroroa’ for 25 years. I have been leading environmental change for a decade, building relationships and empowering farmers to lead and find regional solutions,” said Tracy.

“We need to drive the delivery of creative solutions and innovation to evolve our farming systems for the future, increasing profitability and lowering our footprint.”

Tracy, originally from Northland, lives near Matamata on a 700 cow, 310ha (240ha milking platform) system three farm ‘Tiroroa’ which won the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award in 2010. An AWDT ‘Escalator’ Alumni, she was a finalist in 2017 Westpac Women of Influence Awards and won a Sustainable Business Network’s ‘Sustainability Superstar’ award in 2018. She was recently appointed by Cabinet to the Freshwater Independent Advisory Panel.

Tracy began her career in agriculture as an economist at the NZ Meat and Wool Boards Economic Service, has a BAgrSci (Hons) from Massey University and is a Kelloggs Rural Scholar (Lincoln University).

Elaine Cook 

Elaine and her late husband took the traditional progression through the industry to farm ownership, farming both in the Waikato and Southland, going on to win NZ Sharemilker of the Year in 2006.

Elaine currently has farming interests of a 300ha family farm in Otautau, Southland, but lives in the Waikato with her three daughters.

“I believe DairyNZ’s role is increasingly vital. As farmers we are innovative and world leading, we do need a framework that links all these great things we do, to tell our story about sustainable and ethical food production,” said Elaine.

“I love dairy farming, am passionate about the industry and helping drive industry objectives to ensure we are farming well into the future.”

Elaine has been on the board of Southern Dairy Hub and NZ Young Farmers. Her current and previous governance roles have been with organisations that create value for others in agri-business, research and innovation, industry good, pastoral dairy farming and education.

Her corporate career has involved agri-business, local government, information management, health and safety, and human resources.

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