Wayne McNee appointed Chief Executive

Media Release | 24 October 2023

Wayne McNee, Chief Executive

AgriZeroNZ has appointed Wayne McNee as its chief executive.

AgriZeroNZ is half-owned by major agribusiness companies (ANZCO, Fonterra, Rabobank, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms and Synlait), with the other half owned by the Crown through the Ministry for Primary Industries. It was setup to deliver a step-change in investment aimed at accelerating the development and deployment of emissions reduction tools for farmers.

McNee was initially appointed the JV’s interim executive director to support its establishment after being instrumental in setting up the world-first public-private partnership, said Sir Brian Roche KNZM, AgriZeroNZ Board Chair.

“The Board is pleased to appoint Wayne as chief executive to lead the company through its next stage of development, leveraging his deep industry knowledge and relationships across the agricultural sector and the broader market. The appointment will provide much needed certainty as we approach the important and challenging task of getting affordable and effective emission reductions tools into farmers’ hands,” said Roche.

McNee said he is excited to take AgriZeroNZ forward beyond its start-up phase and address the critical challenge of reducing emissions from ruminant animals in New Zealand pastoral farming.

“AgriZeroNZ is unique because of the breadth of its sector expertise and commercial focus, along with our collective ambition and advocacy to help farmers reduce their emissions while maintaining profitability.

We have a great Board and supportive shareholders committed to this long-term partnership, and I look forward to working with them, other funders, the Government, and the companies we are investing in, to get tools into farmers’ hands and deliver on our ambition to reduce agricultural emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

Wayne McNee, Chief Executive of AgriZeroNZ

McNee says agriculture is the backbone of the New Zealand economy, but global customers of our milk and meat products are setting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets which means New Zealand farmers will need to reduce emissions over time.

“AgriZeroNZ is committed to getting farmers the tools they need to meet the targets of our international customers, so they can continue to be the backbone of our economy, help New Zealand achieve its climate goals and lead the way in sustainable pasture-based farming,” McNee said.

Funding to the JV from agribusiness shareholders is being matched by the Government dollar-for-dollar, to provide around $165 million for the JV’s first four years to 2026.

Since being stood up eight months ago, AgriZeroNZ has made four high-impact investments to bring emissions reduction tools to the market for New Zealand farmers worth over $12million. It has also appointed a distinguished Board of Directors chaired by Sir Brian Roche, with Jessie Chan, Sir Neville Jordan KNZM CNZM, Greg Murison and Fraser Whineray.

The four investments are:

  1. a stake in Ruminant Biotech, a NZ start-up developing a slow-release, biodegradable methane-inhibiting bolus for livestock ($1.8million)

  2. supporting NZ research developing a methane vaccine & inhibitor for use in livestock ($2.5million)

  3. supporting construction of a new methane measurement facility at Massey University ($4million)

  4. lead investor in Hoofprint Biome Inc, a US-based start-up developing novel probiotics and natural enzymes that reduce methane while improving cow health ($4.2million)

Prior to AgriZeroNZ, Wayne McNee was chief executive of herd improvement co-op, LIC (2013-2021), and formerly a state sector chief executive for 14 years where he oversaw the merger of the Ministry of Agriculture with the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and the Ministry of Fisheries to create the Ministry for Primary Industries. He was also chief executive of PHARMAC.