It seems there's only one way to catch up with some of Hawke's Bay's farming leaders as they mix herding the sheep and cattle with striding the corridors of power in Auckland and Wellington.
Thus it was with Mike Petersen, the Central Hawke's Bay farmer who, in a ministerial appointment announced this month, was named special agricultural trade envoy - a kind of farming ambassador as New Zealand presses to provide an even greater share of the global food basket.
I arranged to meet him at the airport in Napier and, just to make sure he's on time, drove past the carpark and spotted the ute with the tell-tale signs of having just come off the farm, in this case the 400ha Te Puna, south of Waipukurau.
Inside, waiting to catch his Monday-afternoon flight on his first day in the new role, he maps out the next week or so without reference to any diary.
It's off to Wellington for two days as chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, then the Federated Farmers conference in Ashburton, then back to the farm, and Saturday morning with wife Rachael at netball to watch daughters Ella, 15, and Grace, 12, and some of 17-year-old son Ben's rugby.
There'll be some farming on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, and then it's off to Auckland for a red-meat sector conference, Beef + Lamb NZ board meetings and a Farmer Council annual general meeting.
He has a number of other roles in farming and business, such as chairman of the New Zealand Meat Board, and says: "I like to be busy."
It is just as well, he says, that he has a few helpers: a wife who grew up with farming, father David Petersen who still lives on the property, and a son at a handy age.
Life may ease up early next year when he expects to hand over the Beef + Lamb job, which he started as a farmer-elected director of Meat + Wool NZ in 2004. He has spent more than six years in the chair, overseeing the transition to the group's new identity with the loss of the woolgrower levy in 2009.
As a Hawke's Bay Farmer of the Year in 2001 and the winner of an FMG Rural Excellence Award two years later, the 49-year-old has been groomed for agricultural leadership.
He says the "beauty" of the new role is that it enables him to build on the contacts and knowledge from those years in the red-meat sector, to cover "right across" the agricultural sector, including harnessing even further New Zealand's reputation as a dairy producer.
"A lot of the headlines are about financial issues, but the underlying issue facing the world for the next 10 to 20 years and beyond is the availability of quality and safe food," he says.
Quality is the country's "real competitive advantage".
The best estimates, he says, are that potential New Zealand production could "only" feed 40 million people - in a world where half a billion of the global population of seven billion live in countries suffering chronic water shortage. Climate change scholars claim the proportion will rise to about four billion of the nine billion forecast to be inhabiting the world by 2050.
"New Zealand has a real opportunity, but also a responsibility to meet that growing demand for food.
"We need to be very active in this space," he says, adding there are issues around protecting New Zealand's reputation. "Because our international reputation and capability is so high, lots of others are trying to pass theirs off as New Zealand product."
The ministerial appointment, announced jointly by Minister of Trade Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, with an immediate focus on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations, was welcomed by Federated Farmers national president and Hawke's Bay farmer Bruce Wills.
With his European Union quota-holding Meat Board leadership and his time with Beef + Lamb, Petersen "brings to the role a lot of experience in market access", Wills says.
As an experienced farmer, he can "look trade negotiators in the eye while explaining how Kiwi farming has become the most open on Earth".
The TPP aims for an expanded Pacific Rim agreement, and Petersen expects slow but sure progress. The Japan New Zealand Partnership Forum in September will be significant in heading towards an arrangement that had initially been targeted for completion by the end of the year.
"The Doha Round is still under negotiation, and that's been going nine years or so ... The pace of trade reform is actually quite slow, but they are quite sensitive agreements and they've got to be done right."
The free-trade agreement with China is an example with benefits now apparent.
"All you can do, though, is open the door that allows the companies to go ahead and do their business."