Andrew Linton was born at Mataura, Southland, on 28 November 1893. His father, James Linton, who died when Andrew was five, was a cheesemaker from Inverness-shire; his mother, Jane Barr, had been an accomplished Ayrshire farmhouse cheesemaker. Andrew followed his brothers, James and Walter, into work in cheese factories. He started in the Omimi cheese factory in Otago, went to Parkvale in Wairarapa, managed the Mount Hutt factory in South Canterbury, and then returned north to manage the Rangiotu factory in Manawatu. He was only in his 20s when he bought his first dairy farm at Kiritaki in southern Hawke's Bay. Almost immediately he became a director of the Kiritaki Co-operative Dairy Company, and in 1921 was made chairman.
On 1 January 1920 at Kiritaki, Andrew Linton married Catherine Shaw, a typiste. They were to have three children. Andrew was the southern Hawke's Bay representative at the 1922 meeting in Wellington to consider the establishment of a New Zealand dairy board. In 1923 he moved with his family to south Wairarapa, where he bought a farm at Lower Valley, and became a director of the Lower Valley Co-operative Dairy Company. He was chairman of this company for about 16 years, until the family moved into the Greytown district, where Andrew became a director of the Greytown–Wairarapa Co-operative Dairy Company. During his Wairapapa farming career he ran dry stock as well as a dairy herd, which gave him an insight into the meat industry.
In 1933 Andrew Linton was one of the Wairarapa delegates to the New Zealand Dairy Board's first Dominion Conference, where he made a considerable impression on industry leaders. Five years later, he was elected representative for the Taranaki–Wanganui–Hawke's Bay area. He was a big, friendly man with a remarkable memory for people, and his warm personality and ability to listen to and negotiate with farmers, ministers of the Crown and business people gave him a high profile on the board. He was deputy chairman from 1949 to 1956, when he replaced the retiring chairman, William Hale. In 1957 he was appointed Dairy Board representative to the New Zealand Dairy Products Marketing Commission, and he was instrumental in amalgamating the two bodies to form the New Zealand Dairy Production and Marketing Board in August 1961. Linton was elected chairman.
For many years Andrew Linton was the public face of the Dairy Board. His chief role was to lead the industry in its unusually close relationship with government, brought about by the state involvement in dairy marketing. While ministers were the official negotiators in government-to-government discussions, they relied heavily on Linton as their industry adviser. In the late 1950s and early 1960s the industry faced renewed problems of dumping, threatened quotas and subsidies to competing producers. He was the chief adviser to the government when it presented its anti-dumping case to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in Geneva in 1961; the senior industry negotiator on access to the British market in 1962–63, when Britain first sought entry to the European Economic Community; and the representative at the International Federation of Agricultural Producers conference at Dublin in 1963.
Linton served on almost all of the dairy industry committees, and on many he took a leading role. He was on the Dairy Research Institute management committee from 1935 to 1959, and was the first chairman of the Veterinary Services Council from 1947 to 1957. While deputy chairman of the Dairy Board in 1952, he helped initiate an employees' superannuation scheme. Passionately committed to raising standards within the industry, he was also involved in establishing the Dairy Factory Managers Registration Board and the Mechanisation of Cheese Manufacture Committee. In 1959 he was appointed Dairy Board representative on the New Zealand Meat Producers Board, and helped gain acceptance for dairy beef. Among his many other commitments, he was a member of the South Wairarapa River Board and the Wairarapa Farmers' Union.
Andrew Linton was appointed a CBE in 1953 and a KBE in 1964. He was devoted to his wife, and when she died in 1963 he initiated the Lady Linton Prize in Pathology. He retired as chairman of the Dairy Board in November 1968 and as a board member in August 1969, following a serious car accident. He died on 9 January 1971 at Masterton, survived by two daughters and a son.