NSW Farmers Association has appointed Peter Arkle as its new chief executive.
Mr Arkle spent 12 years with agrochemical company Syngenta, where he worked in corporate affairs and sustainable agriculture roles.
Prior to Syngenta, Mr Arkle worked as a policy manager at the National Farmers’ Federation.
NSW Farmers is lead by a president who is elected by Association members, and a chief executive who is selected by the Association’s board members.
Mr Arkle replaces former chief executive Matt Brand, who now works for Hort Innovation.
James Jackson was elected Association president at the annual conference in July. He replaced former president Derek Schoen.
NSW Farmers president James Jackson said Mr Arkle was “well placed to lead the team”.
“The board and the staff at NSW Farmers are looking forward to working with Pete and we have no doubt his extensive experience in agriculture has him well placed to lead the team,” Mr Jackson said.
Mr Arkle said the Association has important political work to do in the coming months.
“With agriculture a strong focus at a state and federal level, and elections looming in the first half of 2019, the need for a strong and effective voice for farmers in NSW is more important than ever,” Mr Arkle said.
The process around Mr Arkle’s appointment has raised eyebrows within the Association.
The recruitment was nearing completion during the Association’s conference in July. By the time applications closed 87 people had applied for the chief executive role, and the field had been whittled down to 11 by a recruitment committee.
Mr Schoen told delegates in his outgoing address he had rejected a request from a board member to reopen applications so that a friend could apply.
“This was naturally refused,” Mr Schoen told conference attendees.
Since July, a shortlist of three candidates was selected from the 11 who had been shortlisted by July.
In comments to The Land this week, Mr Schoen criticised the Association for re-opening applications.
“It’s very disappointing the process has taken this long,” Mr Schoen said.
“I am led to believe the process was whittled down to three people and then it was opened up again. That was very disappointing for those three people.”
With John Ellicott