From extreme weather to the Napier Port — there has been so much more to my first year at the helm of Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay than I ever thought there would be.

There have been heaps of media requests, meetings and emails. I've had my eyes opened to the huge amount of work that is being done on a range of issues in our community by Feds, as well as other non-government organisations and councils.

Weather has been a strong talking point. Farmers love to talk about the weather — although some people cannot understand our obsession.

But there's been so much more.


Feds had wins in the Hawke's Bay Regional Pest Management Plan. Rail and road authorities, Crown and forestry have to carry out pest control near boundaries; wildling conifers and hedgehogs are classified as pests; the possum control programme has been retained. Although, we were disappointed the Department of Conservation doesn't have to comply with as strict a possum control rules as other landowners.

We lost the fight on how Chilean needle grass and yellow bristle grass are categorised. We are disappointed with this, but we can understand the regional council's arguments. We continue to push for known infestations to be mapped, neighbouring landowners to be notified, help given to affected farmers, new control options investigated and collaboration/advice given to road contractors.

We had a good win when the courts stopped a plan change sought by Fish & Game to the definition of a wetland. It would have basically classified any area which was periodically wet and had a wetland plant, such as rush, as a wetland, severely affecting how the area could be farmed.

Feds are working to improve our relationship with the regional council in the wake of the last long-term plan adopted which gave a rates increase on most farms of 25 to 50per cent.

My biggest highlight has been the opportunity for the Feds team and I to meet new people and discuss our differing points of view. This should lead to greater improvements in outcomes for all who live in the Hawke's Bay.