Changing of the guard at NSW Farmers

Changing of the guard at NSW Farmers

“Pete has been an excellent leader through what has been a period of great challenge and more recent prosperity for farmers across NSW,” Xavier said at the time of the announcement.

“Pete has built a strong team, modernised many aspects of NSW Farmers’ approach, developed and delivered a successful strategy, and helped secure multiple advocacy wins for our 6,700 members.” 

During Pete’s stewardship, NSW Farmers has successfully grown its full producer membership over the last three years, and its overall membership for the last six straight, reflecting both his leadership and the hard work of NSW Farmers’ elected reps, branches and professional team.

NSW Farmers has successfully grown its membership under Pete’s stewardship

A familiar face has now taken the helm, with the appointment of policy and advocacy expert Annabel Johnson as interim CEO.

Xavier Martin says that Annabel has a lifelong connection with agriculture, having grown upon a cattle and sheep farm near Young, and had worked in the organisation as a Policy Director and most recently as Head of Policy and Advocacy.

“Annabel has a strong understanding of our industry, and more importantly a strong understanding of our organisation, its policies and processes,” he says. “This is a critical time for our industry on several fronts, and Annabel has been closely involved in our work on the issues.

“The Board and I are confident Annabel will be able to provide important continuity for these advocacy efforts, and we thank her for taking on this role.”

Outgoing CEO: Peter Arkle

In reflecting on his time, Pete said he was proud to have helped build “an unrivalled public profile for NSW Farmers, trusted relationships, strong commercial partnerships, and a compelling membership offer. 

“It has been really satisfying to lead and work with our professional team, Boards, EC and our members to stabilise the Association, put a clear strategy in place and to deliver sustained growth over recent years, including through COVID,” says Pete.

“Advocacy is our core business, and we’ve taken up the case for farming families confronted by devastating drought, severe bushfires, a mouse plague and then multiple damaging floods – it’s been a rollercoaster of a period for NSW agriculture and NSW Farmers has worked closely with governments to secure comprehensive recovery assistance for farmers hit by these major natural events.

“This has certainly helped NSW Farmers’ members to bounce back and to capture the opportunities the last year or two have presented, allowing NSW ag to take big steps towards our goal of 30 by 30.”

Pete has been working closely with governments to support farmers after significant natural disasters such as bushfires

NSW Farmers has secured some transformative advocacy results in Pete’s time, including helping to remove the legislated barriers constraining the Port of Newcastle from developing a world-class container terminal, securing additional funding to modernise biosecurity capabilities and keeping governments focused on technology-led and incentive-based approaches to enable sustainable agriculture in our changing climate. 

“The commitment from the new NSW government to legislate the agriculture commissioner will also be critical in ensuring land use change across NSW doesn’t put at risk our State’s best farming land – the resource we depend on to feed us, put clothes on our back and to drive our State’s $10.9 billion agricultural export economy,” Pete says.

NSW Farmers’ strategy, developed under Pete’s leadership, has put a strong focus on building partnerships in a way that delivers genuine value to members and the Association. Commercial services revenue has grown by nearly 80 per cent over the last four years, allowing added investment in our advocacy.

Xavier Martin said, “the health of NSW Farmers’ political relationships, built under Pete’s leadership, was clear to see with the Premier, Opposition Leader, Leader of the Nationals, multiple key Ministers and shadows, and representatives of all political parties in the NSW Parliament actively contributing to our recent Annual Conference”. 

“It’s clear that our Association is seen as a formidable advocate, respected across the political divide for our dedicated focus on making a positive difference for our farming members”.

“The only certain thing in advocacy is that if you aren’t at the table, you won’t influence a thing,” says Pete. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to build a strong reputation and trusted relationships – these have ultimately enabled us to secure some key advocacy results for farmers across NSW.”

“It has been a privilege to lead such a hard-working, capable and committed staff team. The last five years have asked a lot of our farm members, and our dedicated and talented staff have always been there, morning, noon, and night – striving to make a difference on the things that matter most to our members”.

Interim CEO: Annabel Johnson

As October began, so did Annabel Johnson’s role as interim CEO of NSW Farmers. “I want to thank Pete for all he has done over a challenging few years,” she says. “It is hard to believe, but even before COVID-19, we had drought and bushfires. After emerging from the pandemic, the state was hit with extensive floods, and let’s not forget throwing in a mouse plague for good measure. Pete has done a tremendous job ensuring that we deliver for members in the most trying circumstances.

“I’m honoured to be appointed to this role, and to have the opportunity to lead such a talented team of policy, service and operational professionals,” Annabel continues.

“Agriculture is critical to feeding and clothing our nation, and it makes a great economic contribution locally and nationally,” she says. “We will continue to progress our important advocacy work while delivering value and benefits to our members.”

If you enjoyed this feature, you might like our story on the State Budget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *