Dairy, Sheep & Beef, Agribusiness Consultant, Managing Director

James is a partner in AgFirst Waikato, an agricultural consultancy business which covers all areas of pastoral agribusiness. A key focus of his consultancy work is business planning, environmental management, farm supervision and agribusiness project work.

James was a 2014 participant in the UK Institute of Agriculture leadership programme, which provided invaluable insights into global agriculture. He is a director of the NZ Fieldays Society, a previous associate director of AGMARDT, a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management, a director on the NZ National Fieldays Society, and previous chairman of New Zealand Young Farmers.  He was a grand finalist in the Young Farmer of the Year Contest in 1999 and again in 2002.


  • 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

Key Skills

  • 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.

Career History

  • 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

Key Projects

  • 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. AGMARDT 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

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