William Beetham with wife Emily, and their children Isabella, 12, Charlotte, 11, and Alfie, 6. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

BECKIE WILSON
beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

Wairarapa Federated Farmers have welcomed a new president.

William Beetham was voted in on Wednesday at the organisation’s regional annual meeting in Masterton, saying he had a passion to contribute to the region’s farming legacy.

He replaces Bideford farmer Jamie Falloon, who stepped down after a five-and-a-half-year term as president.

Mr Beetham, who was vice-president, is the Wairarapa chairman of the organisation’s meat and fibre section, and also sits as a meat and fibre representative on the national executive board.

As president, Mr Beetham said he was keen to contribute to the hard work Mr Falloon, and past national vice-president Anders Crofoot, had put in for Wairarapa.

Hailing from one of the longest-standing farming families in the region, he said it was in his blood to return to farming.

He has been back on the family farm in Wainuioru, with his wife Emily, for the past six years after building up an impressive international CV.

After growing up working on the farm, he went on to study a diploma of Farm Management at Lincoln University, before launching into a 10-year career outside of farming.

He worked as a rural land manager in England then moved to Australia, where he took up a role in systems management in environment quality.

When he returned to New Zealand, he was a manager for Fulton Hogan in the Gisborne- East Coast region for 18 months.

Mr Beetham said he always had an intention to return to the farm.

“With our farming legacy opportunities, it was always in the blood and something I’ve been passionate about,” he said.

With three children, Isabella, 12, Charlotte, 11, and Alfie, 6, he wanted to offer them the chance to be involved in the industry, and saw the president’s role as a way to do that.

“I couldn’t reiterate more how I’m lucky to have these opportunities, and ensure the future generations have the opportunities too.”

Mr Beetham, who is also the managing director of Beetham Pastural, said he was keen to get more farmers involved with the organisation.

The new dairy chairman is Greytown dairy farmer Wilfred van Beek, who was voted in after Chris Engel stood down on Wednesday.

Mr van Beek and his wife, Rachel, with their six children, Leon, 13, Peit, 11, Amarita, 9, Frits, 6, Gus, 4, and Eleonora, 2, are share-milkers on a property along the Waiohine River.

Originally from Holland, Mr van Beek has lived in New Zealand for 18 years, and has been a Federated Farmers member for 12.

Initially the dairy chairman role was not one Mr Van Beek was working towards.

However, after regularly attending the organisation’s meetings he felt he should put his hand up for it.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Gladstone arable farmer Karen Williams was officially elected as arable chairwoman after working in the role for the past few months.

A vice-president was not elected on Wednesay.