The voice for Taranaki farmers has just grown louder, after five locals were elected onto Federated Farmers national committees.
Taranaki Federated Farmers president Mark Hooper was elected on to the national dairy committee, while Brendan Attrill, Andrew Corrigan and Leedom Gibbs were elected on to the sharemilker farm owners national committee.
Eltham contract milker Sam Ebbett, who was only recently elected as the Taranaki sharemilker chair, now sits on the national committee for the section.
Sam has been involved with Federated Farmers for six years, following winning the NZDIA Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year in 2014.
In 2019, he joined the Taranaki Federated Farmers committee as the New Zealand Young Farmers representative, as well as holding the position of vice chairman of the sharemilker section.
This year, Sam was elected as the Taranaki sharemilker chairman, and later on to the national sharemilker committee.
"I saw the long-term benefit of being involved in the organisation," he says.
"As a farmer, you can be a part of the voice that gets heard and be a part of wider conversations. Decisions are being made at government level that are going to affect our future and we need to make sure we are in the room, as Federated Farmers, having our voice heard."
Having a number of local farmers on national committees allows for the work being done at Federated Farmers to be better understood by Taranaki members, says Mark.
"This provides both a pathway for leadership development as wells as providing a two-way flow of information from a grassroots level in the provinces to national leadership and back again to membership in the provinces.
"It is one of the keys to maintaining a genuine grassroots-farmer led organisation that has farmers coming up through the provincial networks and into the national networks."
Andrew, who farms in Hāwera, has been on the national committee since the mid 2000's alongside Brendan and says a lot of work has gone into ensuring the dairy industry is a sustainable and viable pathway for future generations.
"I have a huge respect for Federated Farmers staff, the executives, and wider committee members who without hesitation genuinely give of their time selflessly, while all being very busy people in their daily lives and businesses."
Leedom, whose family won the 2018 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards, hopes to be a part of the solutions for the many challenges facing farmers.
"As a bottoms-up grass roots organisation, it is important that the collective voice taken to parliament includes all farmers views," she says.
"I can help by being well-informed about farmers experiences in Taranaki so I can feed this up to our national representatives, who are working one-on-one with our Government."
One of the key goals shared by the dairy representatives is to improve relationship outcomes for share farmers and farm owners.