Applications for AGMARDT Leadership Scholarships Now Open



Applications for five leadership scholarships through the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) are now open.

Each year AGMARDT awards up to $15,000 per scholarship to individuals committed to a personal development plan leading to future leadership roles within the primary sector.

AGMARDT’s General Manager Malcolm Nitschke says since 2016, AGMARDT has awarded the leadership scholarship to 23 professionals so they can grow their management, leadership and/or governance skills.

“The success of New Zealand agribusiness is driven by talented and inspired leadership. Our ability to ensure a sustainable sector for generations to come relies on attracting, supporting and developing those leaders now.”

“We are offering up to $15,000 for each scholar so they can participate in governance training, business or management programmes, either here or overseas, and achieve their potential through a comprehensive personalised development plan” says Mr Nitschke.

“We are looking for passionate, forward-thinking people who have an interest in the agriculture, horticulture or forestry sector and are preferably nominated by their business, industry organisations or groups and who are committed to their own personal development.”

Application forms are online at

Applications for the five scholarships close on 30 September 2019



AGMARDT International Internship at AbacusBio 2019/20



The AGMARDT International Internship at AbacusBio 2019/20 – Last year, AGMARDT and AbacusBio introduced an exciting new internship programme. The programme is back, this year with two openings available for the 2019/2020 intake. The internship is for 16 weeks. The internship is intended for early-career self-starters employed in the agri-tech, agri-business, and/or agri-food sectors. The programme will be managed and delivered by AbacusBio. Details and application form available here.

Hear about the experience that Jack Keeys had as the first AGMARDT international intern!

FMG Young Farmer of the Year winner



An Auckland-based business graduate has made history after being named the 51st FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

James Robertson took out the coveted title in front of a crowd of almost 700 people in Napier on Saturday 6 July.

There was loud applause and cheering as he made his way through a standing ovation and onto the stage.

The 22-year-old is the youngest contestant ever to win the grand final of the iconic agricultural contest. “When my name was called out I went into shock. I just can’t believe it, it’s a dream come true,” said James. “It’s always been a goal of mine to win this title.”

James grew up on a 200 cow dairy farm in the Waikato and works for Fonterra in its trade strategy team.

He’s proof you don’t have to milk cows to have a career in New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar dairy sector.

“The opportunities in the agri-food sector are endless, even if you live in the city. You just have to be passionate,” he said.

James was one of seven contestants from across the country who competed in this year’s grand final. The victory was the culmination of days of gruelling practical and technical challenges which tested their skills, knowledge and stamina. Competitors had to drive a large grape harvester, make sausages, assess health and safety risks using a virtual reality simulator, install an irrigation system for fruit trees, market a line of sheep and sit an agri-business exam.

James won a prize package worth at least $75,000, which includes a trip to Ireland. He also took out the FMG People’s Choice Award, winning $1,000 for his Auckland Young Farmers club.

Despite his young age, James has had a long involvement with NZ Young Farmers which started during high school. In 2013, James and a fellow team mate from Hamilton Boys’ High School won the TeenAg Grand Final. It means the Massey University graduate is the only person to take out both grand finals.

“The work NZ Young Farmers does in schools to show students the diverse range of careers in agriculture is extremely important,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for my involvement with NZ Young Farmers early on.”
Central Hawke’s Bay technical field representative Joseph Watts, 28, took out second place in the grand final. He also won the innovation prize, the award for showcasing food production and was named the most tech-savvy contestant.

Waikato vet Emma Dangen, 24, came third and picked up the award for championing environmental best practice.

Alex Field, 25, who’s a stock manager south of Whanganui, won the award for outstanding leadership skills.

The total grand final prize pool is worth $100,000. The FMG Young Farmer of the Year is an iconic contest which began in 1969 and showcases the country’s agri-food sector.

The contest is supported by FMG, Ravensdown, Honda, WorkSafe, Zero Harm Farm, STIHL, Lincoln University, Massey University, Southfuels, Northfuels, Betacraft and New Holland.

Taranaki Farmer Joins AGMARDT as Associate Trustee



AGMARDT has announced the appointment of Liam O’Sullivan as the next Associate Board Member to join its Board of Trustees.

AGMARDT Chairman Tony Egan said, “The Board is delighted with Liam’s appointment. There was a lot of interest in the role and the quality of applications was excellent.”

“The purpose of creating the Associate Board Member position is to provide an emerging agribusiness leader with an opportunity to observe and experience governance in action within an innovative agribusiness environment.”

Liam O’Sullivan farms a Coastal Taranaki dairy farm milking 400 cows where he and his family have been since 2014. Prior to this he had a 16-year Agri banking career working in roles across the North Island which included holding Senior Regional leadership positions. He is a recent graduate of the Fonterra Governance Development Programme (2018), holds a Bachelor of Agriculture and a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies (Valuation) and has held governance and advisory board positions in farming companies. He is currently a member of the Taranaki Dairy Environment leaders’ group.

“I am stoked to be part of the AGMARDT team and look forward to contributing to the good work the Trust does to add to the bright future of the Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry sectors through supporting science, innovation, customer insights and people development.”

“Developing people with good leadership and governance skills is paramount given the importance of agribusiness to the New Zealand economy. AGMARDT intends to continue to support initiatives focused on growing leadership skills and good governance” said Mr Egan.

2019 Young Horticulturist competition launched


The hunt is on for New Zealand’s 2019 Young Horticulturist.

The 2019 event is being officially launched this month with the country’s best young men and women preparing to go head-to-head in six sector competitions throughout New Zealand. These competitions determine who will qualify to compete in the Young Horticulturist annual competition held in November. The competition recognises and celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.

One finalist will represent each of the six sectors, with these being Young Amenity, Young Achiever (representing NZ plant producers), Young Grower, Young Viticulturist, Young Landscaper and Young Florist/floriculturist.

2019 Young Horticulturist Competition chairperson Elle Anderson is thrilled to announce the continued support of four partnering sponsors. These are AGMARDT, Countdown, Fruitfed Supplies and T&G.

She says this year marks a milestone with the competition celebrating its 15th year.

Last year’s winner Annabel Bulk encourages young horticulturists to pit their talents. Annabel, who is a viticulturist with Felton Road Wines in Central Otago’s Bannockburn, says the competition gave her the opportunity to meet and share experiences with like-minded young people from across the horticulture sector.

For more information see the media release from Young Horticulturist:

Primary Industries Summit & Awards



Federated Farmers of New Zealand and Conferenz will co-host the Primary Industries New Zealand Summit and Awards on 1 & 2 July at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington.

The Primary Industries NZ Summit will be a platform and focal point for NZ decision-makers and influencers involved in the primary industries value chain from producers through to research and science communities, technologists, marketers, Iwi and government to hear key analysis and expert insight informing the outlook for a sustainable future. It will facilitate openings for high-level collaboration across the commercial and primary sectors and conversations centred around issues close to the hearts of our primary producers and showcase the best of New Zealand’s primary industries on a national stage.

Primary Industries NZ Summit themes:

Geopolitics and trade outlook
The latest from MPI on the Situation & Outlook data
The Māori economy and its importance to leveraging New Zealand’s primary industry
Trends and shifts in consumer preferences, and their impact on food and agriculture
New Zealand’s contribution to climate change and living within our planetary limits
Showcasing exemplars for innovation and technology

View the agenda:

Agmardt members / receipients of this email are entitled to a discount of $100 off rate chosen to the Primary Industries Summit to be held in Wellington on 1 & 2 July 2019. To qualify, enter the promotional code MC78K8 when booking online:

Booking Options:

Summit Pass – Business & Govt $1599 + GST
Summit Pass – Independent farmer & producer* $599 + GST
*Please note, in order to qualify for the discounted rate, you must be a full-time, independent farmer or producer. Registrations will be verified.

Super Saver pricing ends on 13 May, 2019.

AGMARDT Associate Board Member



Due to the current Associate being appointed to the AGMARDT Board, a further opportunity is being offered to a talented individual interested in gaining Governance experience in the agribusiness sector.

This is a fantastic opportunity to:

  • Gain Governance experience
  • Gain a broad overview of agribusiness; and
  • It is a fixed term of up to 18 months

AGMARDT is an independent not-for-profit trust that aims to foster and encourage leadership, innovation and research capability within the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors of New Zealand.

The Board which meets regularly throughout the year would invite the Associate trustee to attend Board meetings and participate fully in discussion. Essentially it is an opportunity to observe and experience Governance in action within an innovative agribusiness environment.

The Associate Trustee will be given the opportunity to develop their own Governance Development programme in conjunction with the Board during their term.

We are seeking applications from talented individuals and emerging leaders who:

  • Have demonstrated leadership within agribusiness or the wider community;
  • Have the desire and motivation to take on future governance roles and make a positive contribution to agribusiness; and
  • Have broad experience within the agribusiness or forestry sectors.
    If you are interested in applying for this position, please complete the application form online or call 06 323 8766 for more information.

Applications close Thursday 28th February 2019

AGMARDT Trustee Announcement


Justine Gilliland been appointed a Trustee of the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT) following the recent retirement of Barry Brook.

Mrs Gilliland has been an associate board member with AGMARDT since May and from March 2019 is CEO for Venture Taranaki. She has previously worked in leadership roles with the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, and establishing the one billion trees programme with Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand).

Gilliland says she is looking forward to her new role.

As an associate and in my previous work I have seen the difference AGMARDT can make to progressive businesses and leaders in our sector. I’m excited about playing a greater role in helping to shape a sustainable and prosperous future for New Zealand agribusiness.

Trust Chairman, Tony Egan says with her background in strategy, law, policy and communications Mrs Gilliland will make a valuable contribution. He also thanked Mr Brook for his exemplary efforts as Trustee for the past eight years.

Barry has been with the Trust since 2010, which included two years as Chair from 2014 to 2016, says Mr Egan. During his tenure AGMARDT has gone from investing about two million a year to around $5 million, and the quality of the applicant and grants have also increased.

He played a significant role in helping to establish the MPI/AGMARDT Emerging Primary Industry Leadership Scholarship and our in-market grants. His contribution will be missed.

Mr Brook says it has been a privilege to serve on the Board, We’re consistently presented with innovative solutions and it’s rewarding to help bring them to life.

For example, we recently helped to back an anti-pollution face mask, developed by wool-technology company Lanaco. It’s a clever idea which uses the breathable properties of wool to combat a growing health issue and tap into a multi-billion industry.

Innovations like this are a win for our farmers, agribusiness and New Zealand’s economy too. I have loved being a part of it, he says.

Best Primary Sector Employers Announced



Woodville farmers Nicky and Ben Allomes are the inaugural supreme winners.

The Allomes, owners and directors of Hopelands Dairies Ltd, scooped the supreme Minister’s Awards.

They also won the Innovative Employment Practices Award.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has congratulated the best primary sector employers at an awards evening on Tuesday 27 November at Parliament.

“The first ever MPI AGMARDT Primary Industries Good Employer Awards have recognised exceptional employers across the dairy, seafood, forestry and horticulture sectors,” Damien O’Connor said.

“The primary industries employ about 350,000 people – one in seven working New Zealanders and as many as one in three in some regions,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Attracting and keeping this hard-working talent is a significant challenge and we recognise those exceptional employers who are committing to good employment practices such as training, paying and treating staff well.

“I equally acknowledge those working throughout the sector who contribute to these sustainable, high-value business models.

“Good employers help to attract and develop the skills we need for today and tomorrow. Investing in the workforce is critical to the future of our primary industries and a key part of this is providing attractive careers for the next generation of workers.

“I had the pleasure of presenting the Minister’s Award to Ben and Nicky Allomes, the owners and directors of Hopelands Dairies Ltd in Woodville.

“They have creatively solved the age-old problem of work-life balance by investing in a rostering system that allows their workers ownership of when they work and what they do on the ground. They have also shared this knowledge with their community.

The winners and highly commended runners up were:

Innovative Employment Practices Award: Presented by Tony Egan, AGMARDT.
Winner: Ben and Nicky Allomes, Hopelands Dairies Ltd. (Dairy)
Highly Commended: Jenny Buckley and Dave van den Beuken, Jaydee Partnership. (Dairy)

Employee Development Award: Presented by Ray Smith, MPI.
Winner: Kevin and Kylie Ihaka, Forest Protection Services. (Forestry)
Highly Commended: Patrick Malley, Onyx Capital Limited. (Horticulture)

Safe and Healthy Work Environment Award: Presented by Minister Nash.
Winner: Michelle Cherrington, Moana. (Seafood)
Highly Commended: Kevin Ihaka, Forestry Protection Services. (Forestry)

Māori Agribusiness Award: Presented by Minister Jones.
Winner: Miraka. (Dairy)
Highly Commended: Zac Te Ahuru, Ruapehu Agricultural Developments Ltd. (Forestry)

Minister’s Award: Presented by Minister O’Connor.
Winner: Ben and Nicky Allomes, Hopelands Dairies Ltd. (Dairy)
Highly Commended: Bruce Beaton, Kristen Nash and Maurice Windle, T&G Global, Pipfruit. (Horticulture)

100th graduate from primary sector leadership programme



Leadership and governance development of women involved in the primary sector was celebrated last week as the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) marked the 100th graduate from its Escalator programme.

The milestone was reached as graduates of the eighth annual programme gathered in Wellington on 22 November with primary industry leaders and more than 30 members of the Escalator Alumni.

AWDT founder Lindy Nelson said New Zealand’s primary sector were embracing and using this new talent as the programme’s graduates now led at all levels of the primary sector, from the farm to the boardrooms of some of the largest companies.

“We have seen significant change in the sector through our graduates involvement in leadership. In part, this comes from these women deeply knowing their purpose, understanding their motivation for involvement, and tying that the betterment of their communities and the sector.”

“Over the past eight years, about half of the Escalator Alumni have served in governance roles that they did not have before.”

“Others are heading up environmental and community projects, rural health and wellbeing initiatives, local government, Māori agribusinesses and commercial ventures producing high-value primary products.”

At the event last week, Labour List MP and Primary Sector Select Committee member Kiritapu Allan thanked the graduates for being leaders in their communities. “What you are doing on this programme is clearly pretty special. Our regions are the backbone of our economy and country and agribusiness has sustained our industries for generations.”

The 10-month Escalator programme provides leadership and governance development to 14 women each year. It takes a wide approach to development, providing women with skills and support, and addresses the real barriers women can face when engaging in decision-making.

Participants have come from across the primary industries including dairy, meat, horticulture, arable, wool, wine and honey. The programme is supported by AGMARDT, ANZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, FMG, Ravensdown, Red Meat Profit Partnership and CRS Software.