The Beef + Lamb New Zealand Southern South Island Farmer Council has a new chairman.
Bill McCall, of Waikoikoi, was elected at the council's annual meeting in Gore last Thursday night.

About 25 or 30 people attended.

He takes over from Hamish Bielski, of Clinton, who has stepped down from the role.

''Our chairman was standing down and the vice-chairman Hayden Peter had other work commitments so they asked me to take on the challenge quite a while ago,'' Mr McCall said.

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He farms 430ha and runs 5000su.

He has been a farmer all his life and the family has been on the farm for 110 years.

''We tried to work out how long I had been on the council - about 15 years altogether,'' Mr McCall said.

''It's like being part of a big discussion group.

''It was pretty much business as usual.''

Four new councillors had put their hands up.

They are Janet Topham, of Hedgehope, James Edgar, of Moa Flat, Tom Wylie, of Lora Gorge, and Matthew Tayler, of Garston.

''There are now 17 levy payers on the council,'' Mr McCall said.

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The new vice-chairman is Graham Evans, of Owaka.

BLNZ chief insight officer Jeremy Baker talked about risks, opportunities and insights facing the sheep and beef sector.

Other staff discussed issues around carbon, climate change and greenhouse gases.

He said many farmers did not understand the science behind climate change and greenhouse gases, etc.

The council was considering running workshops to upskill farmers about those issues and the potential impact new rules around winter grazing were expected to have.

Director Andrew Morrison, of Waikaka, updated the members on environmental issues, while Mr Bielski gave his final chairman's and financial reports.

Southland extension manager Olivia Ross said there was also an update on the BLNZ innovation farm at Garston.

''The farmer council has a very important role within the five regions,'' she said,

''They ensure the levy is spent where it is needed and make sure farmers' voices are heard across the country.''

She thanked the members for the time they devote to the council.

Southern Rural Life