Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) is holding its annual meetings for the Central South Island and Southern South Island farmer councils in Gore and Wanaka this month.

Nominations for new councillors are now open.

So what does a farm councillor do?

Rowena [Ro] McDiarmid has been on the Central South Island Farmer Council for two years.

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She also sits on the Farming for Profit group's steering committee.She and husband Karl farm a 1500ha sheep and beef property near Oturehua.

They trade beef and run about 5000 ewes.

She said she had really enjoyed working alongside like-minded people from different parts in her area.

"I see the Farmer Council as the farmers' voice, that feeds information to head office in Wellington," Mrs McDiarmid said.

"Beef + Lamb's slogan is 'by farmers, for farmers.'

"We (the area representatives) report about what is happening in our areas, how the season is shaping up, and what technical support our areas may need.

"As an example, we have held drought relief afternoons in different places around Central Otago at times of extreme dry."

She said the Farmer Council also discussed and allocated a budget received from BLNZ's head office to hold events including Farming for Profit groups, field days and seminarsMrs McDiarmid said water was a big issue facing Otago farmers.

"With deemed permits expiring soon, and minimum flows being set by the Otago Regional Council, a lot of farmers feel like their livelihoods are under threat.

"The idea of a 'social licence' to farm is also a daunting prospect for some.

"I see our role in the future is finding the good news stories for our areas and relaying them to the outside world.

"We need to let the general public know that we are doing a good job, we are spending money to mitigate environmental issues, and that we are here for everyone.

"You have heard the old saying, 'You may only need a doctor and a lawyer once in your life, but you need a farmer three times a day," Mrs McDiarmid said.

The Central South Island council meeting is to be at Edgewater, Wanaka, on October 17, from 12.30pm.

Nominations for vacancies in Upper Clutha, Kurow, Teviot Valley and someone from the dairy industry will close on October 12 at 5pm.

The Southern South Island Farmer council meeting is at the Gore Town and Country Club, on October 25, from 7.30pm.

Nominations for new members close on October 15, 2018.

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz