Dairy, Sheep & Beef, Agricultural Economist

Phil joined AgFirst Waikato in 2012, after 35 years with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. He has worked in agriculture all his working life, covering a wide range of issues.

Phil has been a member of the New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society since 1987 and on the executive for 25 years. In 2019, Phil was made a life member in recognition of his input into the society.

Phil has 2 masters degrees: MAgSc (hons) & a MBA and specialises in economic research and analysis, technology transfer, farm management, project management, environmental management, risk management, and business planning.


  • Master of Business Administration, Waikato University 2009
  • Master of Agricultural Science (Honours), Massey University, 1988
  • Bachelor of Agricultural Science, Massey University, 1977
  • Intermediate Nutrient Management Certificate, Massey University, 2012
  • CEO Leadership Course
  • Range of Institute of Management Courses
  • Member NZ Agricultural and Resource Economics (1987); President (1997/98); On Executive Committee since 1994/95
  • Editorial Board NZIPIM Journal 2013

Professional Expertise & Experience

Consulting Agricultural Economist specialising in:

  • Economic  research and analysis
  • Agricultural extension services and technology transfer
  • Applied Agricultural research
  • Temperate livestock production
  • Disaster recovery
  • Agricultural impacts on water quality
  • Investment analysis/financial analysis, including farm budgeting
  • Strategic planning and business management, development of business plans
  • Risk management and analysis
  • Project management: planning and implementation
  • Farm Management: design of management systems
  • Environmental management

Career History

Agricultural Consultant, AgFirst Waikato Ltd, 2012 – Present

  • Economic analyses:
    • Cost benefit of peat drainage.
    • Economic cost of environmental constraints.
    • Cost of on-farm environmental mitigation strategies.
    • Review of Ruataniwha irrigation dam economic analysis.
    • Economics of fertilizer use on hill country.
    • Cost benefit of housed dairy wintering systems.
    • Analysis of the W2O irrigation Scheme.
    • Analysis of value of irrigation to NZ.
    • Valuation of the benefits of OVERSEER.
    • Cost benefit of Hikurangi flood protection scheme.
    • Impacts of Environmental Constraints on Land Values.
    • Economic analysis of stock water reticulation on hill country.
    • Value of Irrigation to NZ
    • Literature Review and Analysis of Farmer decision making with regard to Climate Change and Biological Gas Emissions
    • Economic benefit of reducing the coefficient of variation of fertiliser application
    • Economic Impact of GHG mitigation Strategies on NZ Pastoral Sector
    • Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Maori Farms
    • On-Farm options to reduce agricultural GHG emissions.
    • Analysis of Drivers and Barriers to land Use Change
    • Economic review of Ballance Agri-Nutrients PGP Programme
    • Review of the “Pioneering to Precision” PGP Adoption Programme
  • Development of business case for (successful) PGP research funding bid
  • Development of an extension programme for PGP programme
  • Management of Tūhono Whenua Māori benchmarking project, research project on GHG emission profiles on Maori farms.
  • Review of farm investment prospectuses
  • Analyses and intelligence on drought impacts for MPI
  • Compensation for construction of electricity pylons on-farm
  • Member WRC Healthy Rivers Collaborative Stakeholder Group
  • Chair BOPRC Land Technical Advisory Group
  • Assessment of land development opportunities in Papua New Guinea
  • Deputy Chair, Waikato/Hauraki Rural Support Trust

Manager North Island Regions, MAF, 2005-2012

  • Managed North Island regional policy team (12 staff, $1.5m budget)
  • Led Strategic Thinking Group within MAF Policy
  • Developed Government policy on Adverse Events and Biosecurity recovery, and managed five disaster recovery programmes. Worked with OECD on risk management issues – NZ rep at OECD conference on risk management. Chaired the National Adverse Events Committee.
  • Establishment of a national network of Rural Support Trusts
  • Managed annual financial farm monitoring programme
  • Government representative on the Lake Taupo Joint Protection Committee

Regional Policy Manager, MAF, 1988-2005

  • Managed regional policy team
  • Set up and managed annual financial Farm Monitoring programme
  • Led policy development work on water quality issues, including major research programme.  Govt rep on Lake Taupo water quality programme.  Represented NZ at OECD water conferences.
  • Led policy development work on water quality issues, including major research programme. Government rep on Lake Taupo water quality programme. Represented NZ at OECD water conferences.
  • Provided input into the development of Government policy.  E.g. Bio-security Act, Primary Sector taxation policies, Sustainable Agriculture position papers, Land Transport Pricing Study, Dairy Board Efficiency Review, Producer Board reform, Local Government Rating Powers Act review.
  • Cost benefit analyses on biosecurity threats; e.g. varroa mite, gum-leaf skeletoniser
  • Wrote submissions on council plans, represented MAF at RMA hearings, provided input into reviews of the RMA
  • Commissioned a wide range of research studies on agricultural issues, e.g. Economic Efficiency of Water Allocation, Impediments to Optimising the Economic and Environmental Performance of Agriculture (a study of North Island hill country), Impacts of a Volcanic Eruption on Agriculture and Forestry in New Zealand

Agricultural Economic Consultant, MAF, 1987-1988

  • Organised and ran MAF’s Livestock Taxation Consultancy in Northland.
  • Developed a computer programme to model autumn/winter lamb production.
  • Cost benefit analysis: Maungatapere Irrigation Scheme, Post-harvest botrytis control in Kiwifruit, Drainage scheme rehabilitation.
  • Organised and managed the North Region Farm Monitoring Programme
  • Carried out a financial survey of the kiwifruit industry

Farm Advisory Office, MAF, 1977-1987

  • Provided advice to farmers across all aspects of farming
  • Implemented government development policies (LDEL, LIS)
  • Organised and ran many seminars, field days and farmer conferences
  • Participated in research projects: Dairy Heifer Management; Sheep Shearing Strategies; and Earth Worm Distribution.

Have worked on farms in Taranaki (dairy), East Cape (sheep and beef), Central North Island (beef), and Canterbury (sheep and cropping)


  • NZ Institute of Primary Industry Management Journal articles: Farm debt (2012), Farm productivity (2013), Land values (2013), Economics of wintering barns (2014), Cost of Dairying Production (2015)
  • Presented 25 papers to the NZ Agriculture and Resource Economics Society conference (1988-2016) – published in the proceedings.
  • Presented a paper on “Constituents of Land Value” to 1991 Society of Economist Conference – in proceedings.
  • Presented 6 papers to OECD conferences (water quality (2003, 2005), technology transfer (2000), risk management (2010, 2011)).
  • Written components of the MAF Farm Monitoring report every year from 1988 – 2012.
  • Masterate Thesis: “Developing an Institutional model for the extension and adoption of environmental Best Management Practices by pastoral farmers in New Zealand”

Written MAF Technical papers:

  • History of Extension Services in NZ (2001);
  • Nitrogen Trading System in the Taupo Catchment (2004);
  • Economic Analysis of reducing nitrogen input into the upper Waikato River Catchment (2010);
  • Economic analysis of the impact on farming of limiting the loss of nitrogen and phosphorus; A Catchment Case Study: Aparima (Southland) (2014)
  • Economic analysis of stock water reticulation on hill country (2017)


  • Written a chapter “Economic Analysis of Reducing Diffuse Nutrient Discharge into Water Bodies” in the EU text book “Economics of Water Management in Agriculture” (2014).