James is the CEO of AgFirst, New Zealand’s largest provider of primary sector consultancy services. A key focus of his consultancy work is business planning, farm systems design, environmental management, and agribusiness project work, both nationally and internationally, having worked in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, Chile and Ireland.
James is also the past-president of the New Zealand Fieldays Society, a 2023 Nuffield scholar, a past president of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management, and a previous national president of New Zealand Young Farmers. He was a grand finalist in the Young Farmer of the Year Contest in 1999 and again in 2002.
James and his wife Kerry live at Matangi, along with their three sons, and are actively involved in the local community. Alongside the consultancy business James and Kerry are partners in a variety of farming and non-farming businesses.
- 2016 – NZIPIM Farm Systems Certified Consultant
- 2014 – UK Institute of Agriculture leadership programme
- 2013 – Institute of Directors Company directors course
- 2011 – Advanced Sustainable Nutrient Management, Massey University
- 2008 – Accredited in Farmax
- 2007 – Sustainable Nutrient Management, Massey University
- 2006 – Accredited in DairyBase
- 2005 – Masters in Agribusiness
- 1999 – Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme
- 1998 – Certificate in adult teaching, Auckland Teachers College
- 1995 – Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture); Lincoln University Majors in Farm Management and Rural Valuation; Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management; Senior Registered Member of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management
- Agribusiness Leadership
- Governance, Strategic Planning and business management skills
- Environmental Management: Nutrient budgeting, nutrient management plans, whole farm plans, climate change projects.
- Financial Management Skills: Financial analysis, budgeting, cash flows, accounts preparation, feasibility studies
- Technical Management: Feed planning, fertiliser programmes, re-grassing and cropping programmes, mating management, Farmax, Overseer
- Labour Management: Staff selection, performance planning, contract negotiation
- Project Management: Planning, execution, timely delivery
- Communication Skills: Highly competent in written reporting and public speaking
- Training in Agriculture: James has facilitated a wide range of Agriculture based courses, discussion groups and seminars. These include: Lincoln University Diploma in Agriculture, Agriculture ITO Diploma courses, FarmSafe courses, Employment Relationship seminars, finance seminars.
- 1996-present – Agricultural Consultant, Agfirst. The consultancy work covers all areas of farm management and planning. This includes one-to-one on-farm management consultancy, providing technical, financial, environmental, and labour management advice, with a strong focus on farm system design, business planning and strategic management; leading a large team of Agricultural consultants, locally and nationally; and management of numerous projects
- 1992-1995 Study at Lincoln University
- 1993 Full time employment (1 year) on a Bay of Plenty dairy farm
- NZ Aid – Fiji Dairy Development Initiatives, 2015
- NZ Aid – Agricultural Assistance into Rwanda and Ethiopia
- Project Manager, Rapid Adoption Pilot Programme, 2015
- Guest speaker, NZTE Fieldays, Osorno, Chile (2015)
- Hauraki P3 Dairy Push, 2014 –
- Responsibility for Agfirst delivery of Sustainable Milk Plans, and other industry environmental management/ audit projects.
- Project Manager for the MAF farm monitoring programme, covering dairy, sheep and beef, and deer, throughout New Zealand, 2010
- Ensuring a viable progression path for succession in the dairy industry, 2011
- Stock-take of farm management tools used by farmers and rural professionals, 2011
- Project Manager of the Dairy Push extension project, South Waikato, 2007 –
- Organic focus farm, Waikato, 2008 – 2011
- Provider of MAF Farm Monitoring Maize commentary report 2001 – 2006
- Provider of MAF Farm Monitoring report – Waikato Dairy 1997 -2005
- Extension Project: No-Tillage cropping. 2003 – 2006
- Various market research projects
- Farmers Supporting Farmers – a mentoring programme for the dairy industry 2006 –
- Drought Management, Surviving the Tough Times, Chile 2015
- Presentation to NZARM conference 2015
- Allen, J.K. (2012), Progression Paths in the Dairy Industry.
- Changing the face of extension, IFMA presentation (2011)
- Business renewal, growth and transition: Opportunities, and challenges (2011). Presentation to Teagasc National Dairy Conference, Ireland.
- Changing the face of extension using old methods, Waugh, Allen & Mouton (2011), International Farm Management Congress, Methven.
- Upper Waikato nutrient efficiency study (2009)
- Allen, J.K. (2005), Managing the transition for the single family farm to multiple property ownership: pitfalls and recommendations (dissertation).
- Allen, J.K. & F.J. Hall (2004), Dairy Insight project 2004, Impact Assessment on Dairy Farmers on Changes in Dairy Payout.
- Allen, J.K. (2001). Opportunities and threats for New Zealand Dairy Farmers from the Uruguay Dairy Industry. AgricultureMARDT study grant report.
- Allen, J.K. (1999). The future for rural New Zealand. A speech presented to the Public Service Senior Managers conference, Wellington, September 1999.
- Allen, J.K. (1999). Strategic planning systems for New Zealand farmers. A Kellogg Rural Leadership programme report.
- Allen, J.K. (1998). The viability of small dairy farms. Primary Industry Management Journal, Vol. 1, No. 3, December 1998, p26 – 28