Bean counter turned farmer aims for SFF board seat – Rural News Group

A candidate for the upcoming Silver Fern Farms Co-operative board elections says the co-op is going to need continued strong governance to handle the challenges facing farmers.
Will Clarke and his wife Stacey farm near Clinton in South Otago. He’s one of four candidates vying for two board seats. The other candidates are Simon Davies, Anna Nelson and Rodney Booth. Voting packs go out to shareholders this week.
The Clarkes farm 950ha and milk that 1500 cows. It’s a self-contained property and the couple rear all their own young stock and beef calves.
Clarke started out as a chartered accountant working for Deloitte as a senior analyst in Dunedin, providing professional services and advice on a range of issues from taxation to capital allocation and strategic planning.
His family has been in Clinton since the 1890s and he’s been back on the farm for 10 years. As a relatively young farmer, Clarke believes he’ll bring diversity to the board, complementing the skills that are already there.
“I think the future for red meat production is very positive and there’s loads of opportunity out there in the market,” he says.
“The financial expertise on the board and the experience I have across a wide range of business will allow me to make a strong and immediate contribution to the SFF board.”
As a hands-on farmer, Clarke says that he understands threats to farming businesses, including factors outside farmers’ control.
“Rampant inflation in farm costs, combined with low prices and high interest rates makes it difficult for our sheep and beef farms to remain profitable,” he told Rural News. “It’s essential we navigate through government and climate change regulations to ward off the onslaught of land-use change to forestry so that our farms are there for the next generation.”
Clarke was part of the Silver Fern Farms emerging director group 2021-22, Farmlands Co-operative Society board observer 2020-21 and has been a Clutha Development Group board member 2018. He also served as a trustee of the Clutha Foundation since 2021 and has been part of various community organisations and clubs.
In 2022, Clarke won the Institute of Directors Otago/Southland Emerging Director award and completed the Fonterra Governance Development Programme and the Core governance and extension course.

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