Change continues at the top of Silver Fern Farms.

King Country farmer Anna Nelson has been unanimously voted by the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative board to become its new chairwoman after the co-operative’s annual meeting on May 8.

Directors of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative were responsible for setting the co-operative’s governance and strategic direction.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative owns 50% of Silver Fern Farms Ltd (the operating company), in partnership with Chinese-owned Shanghai Maling.

A statement yesterday said incumbent chairman Rob Hewett had also been unanimously voted to stay on as an appointed director for up to 12 months to support continuity of governance.

Nominations for the two farmer-elected positions on the board have opened and the results will be announced at the annual meeting. Both Mr Hewett and Gabrielle Thompson retire by rotation and Ms Thompson was standing for re-election.

Mr Hewett said the changes were designed to create continuity, as there was both a change of leadership at a governance level and the operating company would have a new chief executive with the recent appointment of Dan Boulton, who replaces Simon Limmer.

“While the new chair and chief executive will each bring fresh perspectives and focus, ultimately, the board is united behind Silver Fern Farms’ strategy and direction of travel and it’s important we keep momentum until the new changes are embedded.

“From our experience working with her around the board table, the board and I have a great deal of confidence that Anna will be an exceptional chair.

“Despite the prevailing market conditions we’re experiencing, we’re going into the next period in good health and with a clear focus,” he said.

Originally from a hill country background at Cheviot, Mrs Nelson has a veterinary science degree from Massey University and she and her husband, Blair, run a 1450ha breeding and finishing block in the King Country with Mr Nelson’s parents.

As well as 10 years at a veterinary practice in central Waikato, she has also been an associate director at Beef + Lamb New Zealand and catchment co-ordinator at King Country River Care.

Mrs Nelson said she was looking forward to leading a unified board and working closely with shareholders and suppliers through the current challenges in the market.

“As a farmer as well as a director, I’m acutely aware of how market conditions are being felt right across our supply chain. This gives our board a clear focus and resolve to continue creating value for the farmers the world needs.”

Those co-operative directors who have also been appointed to the board of the operating company would be confirmed following the annual meeting.

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