Over the past five decades, Rob has earned the respect and gratitude of farmers, as well as his colleagues, for his dedication and efforts in supporting B+LNZ and its predecessor organisations’ work on behalf of the sector.
Rob joined B+LNZ in 1973, before it was called B+LNZ, back in the days of New Zealand Meat and Wool Boards’ Economic Service. Throughout the years, he has witnessed the organisation navigate changes in government, the entry of new generations of farmers, droughts, floods, and the global financial crisis; all while the country went through numerous international market fluctuations.
The Wellingtonian knew he wanted to be part of the agriculture sector from a young age and through a cadetship worked in farms across the country from Waikato, Wairarapa, Canterbury and Southland. He completed his diploma in sheep farming through Massey University.
His commitment to the industry led him to complete a degree in Agricultural Commerce and a pivotal role as a Research Officer at the Meat and Wool Board’s Economic Service.
While Rob has held various titles within B+LNZ and its predecessors, most recently as Special Projects Manager his overarching commitment to ‘doing right’ for New Zealand farmers has been unwavering, amounting to an impressive 90,000+ hours of dedicated work for the sector.
Reflecting on his tenure, Rob says, "The thing I have loved most about my time at B+LNZ is the challenge of bringing sense into policy and regulations based on sound credible information. This hasn't always been easy, and today it seems many New Zealanders fail to grasp how reliant the economy is on farming and meat exports; the primary sector is a huge and significant engine.”
Rob’s favourite part of the job has always been working to use sound economic data and science-based evidence to inform New Zealand policy. Central to this effort is the annual in-depth B+LNZ Sheep & Beef Farm Survey and the staff who visit each farm. The Survey records actual physical areas, inputs and outputs which includes analysis of invoices to get actual livestock transactions for weight and price, fertiliser tonnages, and financial accounts including the capital structure of farms.
He received the Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand's Primary Industries Award in 2020, specifically for his work on the survey and its analysis. The award acknowledged the Survey as a trusted source of information, forming the basis for significant policy work in the primary sector and serving as a crucial element in forecasting production and the future direction of sheep and beef farms in the economy. Rob was also honoured with the Officer of New Zealand Merit (ONZM) for his contributions to the Sheep and Beef Industry in the 2016 Honours List.
Sam McIvor, Chief Executive of B+LNZ, says, "It is not often you come across someone with the calibre and dedication of Rob. Summing up the massive impact he has made on the sector is challenging because he has done so much.
“The respect and reputation he has gained with red meat farmers, processing companies and agricultural experts across the country stands as a testament to him and his work. As an organisation and sector, we are very proud of Rob and thank him for his service.”