New agricultural trade envoy appointed

A Tararua beef and sheep farmer appointed to represent New Zealand agriculture on the international stage says it's critical the sector has a strong voice.

Farmer and former Nuffield scholar Mel Poulton has been appointed as the country's new Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, replacing Mike Peterson who has held the role since 2013. 

The position supports key Government objectives, including raising the value of New Zealand agricultural goods and services.

Poulton is a pastoral farmer based in the Tararua District, is active in environmental stewardship and is a member of the Global Farmers Network.

She told Rural Today that she hopes to build on the platforms Peterson established, and continue the good work of him and his team.

Mel Poulton runs a sheep and beef farm with her family.
Mel Poulton runs a sheep and beef farm with her family. Photo credit: Supplied/Beef and LambNZ

"We want to acknowledge the experience and expertise of a lot of people across the industry in this whole space," she said.

"If we can navigate our way through what is a fast-changing environment both here and overseas, and achieve better outcomes for our whole industry, for both sides of the farm gate, I think we will be winning."

Poulton said having a voice for the agriculture sector on the international stage was critical to achieve better outcomes for New Zealand.

"We are small and a long way from these discussions, we don't have a lot of resources to be at everything, so we need to be pretty careful about what we invest our time and energy to make sure we get results."

Minister of Agriculture, Damien O'Connor said Poulton was well-placed to tell New Zealand's agriculture and environmental stewardship story to the world. 

Damien O'Connor said a priority was to build support for our free trade agreement negotiations with Europe.
Damien O'Connor said a priority was to build support for our free trade agreement negotiations with Europe. Photo credit: Newshub

"In the immediate term, her priorities will be engaging with farmer groups and other agriculture sector stakeholders to build support for our free trade agreement negotiations with Europe and, in due course, with the United Kingdom," he said.

"More broadly, Mel will be tasked with advocating for New Zealand's agriculture trade interests from the perspective of a practicing farmer and identifying opportunities for New Zealand to commercialise its agricultural expertise offshore."

Poulton's appointment has been welcomed by Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

"She's a great representative of New Zealand farming," she said. "She has a very good appreciation of the importance of trade to New Zealand and to the primary sector."

Poulton will formally take up her role on January 1, 2020.

Newshub.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz