Farmer lobby group Federated Farmers has gained political clout with its new chief executive, former list MP Annabel Young.

Her appointment last week is seen as the culmination of an internal review last year that identified a need for stronger advocacy by the organisation.

The daughter of Bill Young, minister for works and development in the 1970s, she entered Parliament in 1997 as a National Party list member. Young sat on the finance and expenditure and regulations review committees and was National Party tax spokeswoman.

She highlights the relevance of her political experience to her new role.

"There's nothing like being an MP to give you insights into how the system runs.

"It's amazing how many people charge a lot of money but don't actually know how to lobby," Young said.

She has written a book on the subject - The Good Lobbyist's Guide.

In a proportional representation system, she said, you had to be able to talk to all parties because it was never clear exactly who would support or oppose an issue.

"It's really an understanding of having to talk to everybody and knowing how to do it so you are noticed and listened to."

In her first term she was responsible for the Hawkes Bay electorate where she was closely involved with the rural sector. Her new job, representing the interests of 18,500 farmers in nine industry groups including meat and wool, dairy, mohair, rural butchers, high country and grain farmers, young farmers and even beekeepers, is a match.

She said the key issue facing farmers in 2005 was public and private access to farmland.

Last year the Government proposed an access commission to discuss the public right to walk alongside significant waterways. A strip 5m wide alongside waterways for public access has been proposed.

Young will lobby for compensation for farmers if they have to provide access to their land.

However, Young said, these talks might also increase public use of "paper roads" if the commission publicised their locations.

Unlike waterways access which requires new legislation, "paper roads", which are designated but have no tarseal, already have legal status.

She said publicising the locations of such roads posed a potential public health risk and a liability to farmers.

"If the Government goes along putting up signs on the edge of roads saying: 'Paper road here', then they need to think about what liabilities are around for people who get hurt using these roads."

Proposals for a new electricity transmission line to Auckland is also a focus. She said farmers who previously saw providing land access as being in the public interest might not have the same attitude for the privatised industry.

"Having a private company put an electricity line across your land is not quite the same," she said.

Young comes to the role after two years as tax director at the Institute of Chartered Accountants. One of her tasks was putting accountants' views to the Government and Inland Revenue.

She said that in the second year all the main issues were farming related, most notably the proposal to change the taxation status of capital projects.

Farmers who had converted part of their farm for a different operation faced large backdated tax bills for items previously deducted, such as fertiliser.

Young convinced the Inland Revenue to allow past deductions to stand.

Young said her immediate task is to meet staff based at 11 sites across the country and ensure the federation was an organisation people would want to join.