Richard Young – Chairman, Silver Fern Farms Co-operative
Richard was appointed Chairman of the co-op in May 2019 having first been elected to the Silver Fern Farms Board in 2013. Richard and wife Keri operate a 300ha sheep and cropping property at Tapanui, West Otago.
Q1. What are the key issues you’re currently trying to address?
We all want the outcomes that zero carbon and essential freshwater documents are trying to achieve, how we get there is the challenge we are collectively debating. Front of mind for us is how we support our shareholders through these challenging times. In their present forms, these documents will fundamentally change the face of NZ agriculture. As a business, we are looking to find opportunities for our shareholders in amongst the many challenges
Q2. What single most important policy change could this coalition government make to benefit your co-operative?
Present legislation around ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) that encourages emitters to offset rather than make positive change to lower emissions, is driving the conversion of sheep and beef country to forestry. Policy changes in those areas would increase certainty for our co-operative.
Q3. What is your organisation doing to make itself future proof?
Consumer preference is changing quickly, we must encourage our members to make positive change in line with those consumer changes. We must take our shareholders on the journey to maintain our relevance in market, around sustainability and world-class farm practices.
Q4. Co-operation among co-operatives is a Rochdale Principle from 1844: how do you work with fellow co-ops (and mutuals)?
To the Core, a joint governance training initiative with Farmlands, is an example where collaboration makes sense. We are looking at how we can continue to provide governance and leadership opportunities for members of both co-operatives. Governance and leadership training is essential in developing talent that will lead our co-operatives into the future.
Q5. Which topic(s) should Cooperative Business NZ choose for its upcoming series of CEO think-tanks?
Change: How the co-operative model can remain nimble and continue to evolve as change becomes more fast-paced.