Growing up on a dairy farm, Dr Tim Mackle always had an inherent interest in farming. The now-former Chief Executive of DairyNZ had a strong interest in science and innovation that led him to pursue a PhD in animal food and nutritional sciences at Cornell University in the US.
A humble Kiwi hailing from a family farm in Kairkoura, Dr Mackle told REX Today host Dominic George he fell in love with the science side of farming at Lincoln University.
"Credit to some wonderful lecturers (at Lincoln University) at that time, they had some fantastic capability on faculty," he said.
After completing a PhD at Ivy League Cornell University, which he described as 'more of a life goal', Dr Mackle worked with the Dairy Research Centre, the Dairy Board, and then moved to Fonterra. He was part of the team that worked on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, a critical milestone for the industry.
As a leader, Dr Mackle faced numerous challenges, including dealing with criticism. He emphasized the importance of having a clear purpose and strategy and the collective cooperative nature of the dairy industry.
“It’s absolutely crucial to our future, is science and innovation.”
In the face of the heavy regulatory agenda in recent years and financial pressures on farmers, Dr Mackle remains optimistic about the dairy industry's future. He believes that science and innovation are crucial for the sustainable future of the dairy industry.
“Fundamentally, you know it'll revolutionize a lot of what we are doing now… But we can't take away from the fact that, even from a biology point of view, you know, from either health or nutrition, we down at the farm level, whether it be through plants or animals, there's still a huge amount of stuff that we don't know and that we need to tap into,” he explained.
Dr Mackle holds a strong belief in the value of mutual support and his unwavering optimism for the future. Irrespective of any specific industry, he emphasised the importance of resilience, hard work, and ambition.
"If we could solve that, I think we would start making even more progress."
Dr Mackle stepped down from his role as DairyNZ Chief Executive on June 30, 2023, but is still part of a farming board which he said is very interesting and keeps him busy.
Listen to the full chat between former DairyNZ CEO Dr Tim Mackle and Dominic George above.