Jared Ross reckons he has got big boots to fill.

Mr Ross (35) has taken over from Lyndon Strang as chairman of the North Otago Federated Farmers dairy section. Mr Strang stood down at the recent annual meeting, wanting to focus more on water quality issues.

Mr Ross, who was previously the sharemilkers section chairman, has taken the scenic route to dairy farming in the Waitaki Valley. His family originated in Central Otago, where he loved summer holidays on his grandparents' farm.

His father's career in the horticulture industry's head office meant most of his school years were spent in Auckland. Mr Ross headed off to Lincoln University, completing a BComAg majoring in farm management in 2004.


He entered the dairy industry in South Otago, then came to North Otago to take up an management opportunity in combination with lower-order sharemilking.

The year 2009 was momentous for him. It included marrying Susan, moving to higher-order sharemilking, and joining Federated Farmers.

''I haven't really looked back, as the rural life is certainly my bent,'' Mr Ross said.

''Dairy has been a targeted progression for ourselves into independent land ownership and has challenged who we are beyond belief.

''It is a tough industry, although rewarding if you can deliver results.''

Susan Ross, who trained in accountancy before living in Europe for several years, has a local farming background. Her husband is impressed by her ability to be ''a thick-skinned contributor to us delivering on our here and now'', focusing on details as well as being ''practically able''.

She is also a ''terrific mum to our daughter Heidi [nearly 2]''. Mrs Ross also keeps ''office and calves''.

Jared and Susan Ross recently bought a 180ha dairy support property between Kurow and Duntroon. They are continuing its historic wintering programme and hope to install spray irrigation under the proposed upgrade of the Kurow-Duntroon scheme.


Future goals include mixed farming with venison and velvet, and being a primary industry advocate.

Mr Ross said his initial involvement with Federated Farmers was as a first-time employer seeking resources and legal help. Now, he is ''keen to deliver an industry contribution outside of our own world as we know it''.

He would like farming to evolve from a performance-oriented, hands-on system to ''new and meaningful'' focuses on how and where its practitioners spend their time.

''I'm particularly interested in the policy advocacy strength of Federated Farmers. However, I would like to see the membership funding mechanism readdressed, as I see scope for primary production cohesion rather than much duplication among levy-funded entities as is current.''

Numbers in the organisation were barely being maintained, ''yet now more than ever the primary production sector requires our contribution and leverage on the direction being set by Government policy''.

Away from the public eye, Mr Ross said he enjoys ''quality, uninterrupted family time'' as well as hunting, fishing, and aviation. But timing is everything:

''Susan wants at least two children before she'll OK any furthering of my helicopter interest.''