Winning hearts and minds is key task, says Meat & Wool leader

 25 June, 2020

Of all the difficult issues ahead, ensuring farmers "have the hearts and minds of all New Zealanders with us" is probably the toughest, the new Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Industry Group Chairperson William Beetham says. 

Beetham, who is the current Federated Farmers Wairarapa/Wellington Provincial President, was elected to the national role at the Meat & Wool AGM yesterday [June 24]. 

"My key goal for the Meat & Wool Council is that we create really effective communication with our farmer members up and down the country, so that we’re clearly hearing the majority voice and they’re up to speed with our strategy. 

"We also need to be co-ordinating with the agriculture levy-funded bodies and other agencies rather than forging on in our own silos. The sector deserves a united and strong voice," he says. 

Beetham picks it will be a very busy three-year term ahead, with the need to build on progress already made in the water, biodiversity and climate change space, not to mention working hard to re-invigorate the wool industry.

"But paramount to all of that is bringing the rest of New Zealand with us, building trust and helping them understand our challenges as we continue to deliver the prosperous and environmentally-sound primary sector that the national economy needs." 

The Beetham family has farmed at Wainuioru, in the Wairarapa, since 1856. 

After graduating with a Diploma in Farm Management from Lincoln University, William began a professional career spanning New Zealand, Australia and England working in agricultural engineering, land management, business systems and management. He returned to the family sheep and beef farm - Highcliffs - in 2008, which he managed for six years before leasing the farm. The family farming business now operates three farms over 1750 ha finishing lambs, steers and bulls. 

William and his wife Emily have three children, Isabella 14, Charlotte 13 and Alfie 8. 

Re-elected to the Meat & Wool Council are David Acland (Vice-President, Mid Canterbury), Sam Haine (Gisborne) and Daniel Hodgen (North Canterbury). The new member is Kerry Irvine, who with his wife Pamela owns a 700 hectare sheep and beef farm in Tapawera, south west of Nelson.