5 minutes with Chris Dennison

5 mins withChris Dennison has been announced as the new Farmlands Director, following the South Island Director election. The result was announced by Chairman Lachie Johnstone at the Farmlands Annual General Meeting in Christchurch at the start of November. Chris has extensive experience as a Director, including as former Deputy Chairman of Ravensdown Fertiliser and former Chairman of the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company. He and his wife Kay run a 400 hectare arable farm, with an adjacent dairy farm milking 800 cows and producing 360,000kg of milksolids.

Tell us a bit about your family.
I’ve been married to my wife Kay for 27 years and I’ve got two children, Rebecca and Harry. Rebecca is in her fourth year of study at Otago, studying Social Welfare, while Harry has just finished his last year of secondary school and is off to start a B.AgCom at Lincoln.

Tell us a bit about your farming history.
I returned to our family farm when I finished my degree at Lincoln, because my father had health issues. It was a traditional mixed livestock farm with a little bit of crop and we changed that over the years to a different mix that involved dairy.

Our split involved dairy on the light soils and moving to 100 percent arable on the heavier cropping soils. We probably did that transition over 10 years or so.

How many years have you been involved with Farmlands?
My family has been involved since the early days of the Otago co-operative, so from around 1963 or 1964. I’ve certainly been involved all of my farming life, which is about 30 years or so.

You get those shareholders that are proud of their shareholder number and my father was no different – his number is 273.

What do you appreciate the most about the co-operative model?
What I like about co-operatives is it is farmers helping farmers, working towards a common goal.

My grounding in governance is around co-operatives, so it is an area that is close to my heart.

What is your goal as a Director of Farmlands?
My goal is to adhere to the co-operative principles and to make Farmlands the enduring co-operative it should be. I want to help Farmlands continue to build trust relationships with our shareholders, so that Farmlands is the first call that people make.

I’m pretty well grounded because I am a farmer, not a businessman that pretends to be a farmer. My passion is arable but I also have a very good background in sheep and beef. And I sit on a number of other Boards as well – I’m heavily involved in irrigation.

It is an honour to have been elected and I am looking forward to helping Farmlands as both a Director and a shareholder.