Power company Meridian has renewed its sponsorship of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) for another three years.
The NZ Dairy Industry Awards Trust says the decision follows revelations of “unacceptable social media comments” posted by Bertram prior to the awards. Bertram’s twitter comments from 2017 were revealed by animal rights group SAFE.
Bertram apologised for his comments on the same day they were made public.
In a statement, Bertram says the NZDIA decision has come as a complete shock.
He refused to hand over the title voluntarily.
“As you may have heard we have become subjects of ‘cancel culture’ in New Zealand.
“After refusing to hand our title in voluntarily, following consultation with our support networks, we decided to not give SAFE the win.
“We have worked really hard and spent many hours working on our presentation. We have also given four years of our time on the regional dairy industry awards committee after winning nationals in 2014 (Dairy Manager of the Year title).
“It came as a complete shock that the NZ Dairy Industry Awards have stripped us of our title.”
The NZDIA Trust says it will undertake an independent review of its procedures, processes and entry criteria.
It acknowledges Bertram subsequently apologised and deleted the comments and that some people within the industry were aware of those comments prior to the awards being announced last Saturday.
“Animal welfare is of paramount importance to the industry and the Trust is committed to offering a 2021 Awards programme that will showcase best practice and allow entrants to benchmark and improve their own farming practices. It is also committed to farmer welfare and will ensure Mr and Mrs Bertram are supported during this difficult time,” NZDIA says.
Bertram claims the current members of the National NZDIA committee/trust were also aware of these tweets leading into the current awards programs.
“When we questioned them why did they allow us to enter….their response was they didn’t know we were going to win.
“The current national committee/trust have used the excuse that the sponsors are putting them under pressure to strip our title. However, we have approached the sponsors in question and this is not the case.
“The National Dairy Industry Awards committee/trustees were aware of the tweet in question three years ago. They had a meeting and following this meeting I was told to pull my head in, and in future watch my tweets and my language.
“Soon after that I took a year off twitter to focus on the family. During this time, I did social media training. I have had no issues on social media since.”
Bertram has also resigned as Federated Farmers sharemilkers section vice chair.