NORTHERN Tablelands sheep and beef producer James Jackson has been elected president of the NSW Farmers Association, taking the reins from Derek Schoen.
A ‘policy man’ who has many years in the sheepmeat and animal welfare space, Mr Jackson said his main goal was to reconnect the association with its grassroots members.
“A lot of people agree it’s a bit broken in the branches at the moment,” he said.
He praised outgoing chief executive Matt Brand for his communication skills with government but admitted the relationship between the executive and members had become ‘atrocious’.
...it is less of a risk than a safe, centralised message from head office. You’re risking not hearing those voicesNew NSW Farmers President James Jackson on a more open communications policy
“You might have noticed all the candidates touched on that,” Mr Jackson said.
Mr Jackson said he would look to replicate a strategy used by the Ag Bureau of America that empowered local champions to tell their stroies and share their views on important policy issues.
“That’ll probably be great for journalists – and I’ll certainly have a lot more spot fires to put out,” he said.
“But it is less of a risk than a safe, centralised message from head office. You’re risking not hearing those voices.
“To be fair to Matt, it is a difficult job and you need the resources to be able to get the word out properly.”
Mr Jackson is a former large animal veterinarian who previously worked in South Australia as a relief vet for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, servicing areas like Oodnadatta and Coober Pedy.
He’s been with NSW Farmers for a couple of decades, and helped develop an industry-wide plan during his time on the Sheepmeat Council in Canberra.
He was also selected to accompany Federal government on trade missions to Asia over the past couple of years, including trips with Barnaby Joyce and Andrew Robb.
In his pitch to the NSW Farmers conference at Luna Park, Mr Jackson said he would address the ‘statutory theft of property rights from farmers’ via fair right to farm and native vegetation laws.
He also pledged to “cut a better deal on drought” for the state’s struggling producers.
On the Association’s finances, Mr Jackson said the balance sheet was being propped up by favourable property sales and prices, including the recent sale of the Association’s St Leonards office.
He said the groups’s operating budget needed to be improved.
“(With property) what goes up must come down. We need to put measures in place so the next generation of advocates have a voice too.”
Mr Schoen, Corowa, stepped down from the Asspresidency after three years, earlier than he was obliged to.