Rural contributor Kevin Geddes has retired from Federated Farmers after more than 30 years pushing the causes of the rural community and ensuring its people were protected from industry and government decisions.

He officially finished on December 21.

At a celebration/farewell dinner at Lake Hood he was made a Life Member of the Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers Province, in appreciation of a lifetime of dedicated service to Mid Canterbury Farmers, Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers and Mid Canterbury Farmers Charitable Trust.

The dinner was attended by Federated Farmers members from within Mid Canterbury and from the national body, rural industry members and dignitaries.

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The province award followed his life membership of Federated Farmers New Zealand the week prior.

''I'm hugely honoured. There are exceptional farmers in this area.''

He said Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury has had more farmers on the national board than in any other province.

The ''intellectual power'' in the room at his celebration and farewell dinner was ''extraordinary''.

Although Mr Geddes, QSM, may close the office door in one capacity, he will not be going far.

He has many plans to fill in the days.

Not only will he spend more time with wife, Lorraine, and family members but there was also research planned for a book, a trustee role, men's choir and voluntary adviser options.

''It's been hugely satisfying working with people in this area; it's people first.''

''I've been hugely privileged and hugely enjoyed what I've done.

''I was fortunate that through troubled times I was able to develop skills I never knew that I had, to mediate between financiers and [farming] families.''

He was able to reinvent himself in an area that might have been physically less demanding, but was intellectually more demanding than the farm work he had been doing.

''I am hugely thankful to the people who allowed that to happen.''

Mr Geddes' career began from farming in Central Otago and grew after being elected to Federated Farmers Otago/ Southland Club in 1960.

He was in the national farm cadet scheme and became a Nuffield Scholar in 1972.

In 1973 he moved north to Mid Canterbury and farmed beef and sheep, with limited crops, at Cracroft and a dairy farm at Trevors Road, both in Carew.

''My generation drained the swamps but today's generation are required to protect the swamps. We had the freedom to do that and the economic benefits.''

It was those freedoms and insights that helped to generate New Zealand's wealth and gave it first-world country status through its farming intensification to maintain its economic integrity.

And farming still underpinned the New Zealand economy, he said.

Now consumers of food demanded accountability, wanted to know how food was produced and that animals were unharmed and those farmers were ''producing at a level unheard of in my day. That's the world we live in today.''

Then Mr Geddes saw his own on-farm role change in the late 1980s when the dollar rose 30%, wiped out the export barley industry and nearly crippled New Zealand.

It resulted in forced farm sales.

Funding was made available from then prime minister David Lange and Mr Geddes went into battle to get help for struggling rural community members, through the formation of the New Zealand Rural Trust (early Rural Support Trust).

At the time he was able to put a manager on the beef and sheep farm and had a sharemilker on the dairy farm.

After just over a year, he was offered the role of Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury provincial chief executive and eventually sold both farms.

He has a wealth of knowledge and not only served as an executive on the fertiliser quality council but was still an executive director with the New Zealand Groundspread Fertiliser Association.

He planned to retired from his role with the groundspread association once a strategic review had been completed early next year.

During his time within Federated Farmers, he has held many titles, including Federated Farmers national grains manager, and went on to analysing policy development as a policy adviser.

He went into the policy sector to make sure the future farming industry would not suffer the same fate of the '80s and that decisions made at top levels would ''do no harm to large sectors of the community''.

There would always be work to do.

Over the years, he had seen great technical advances and leaps in intelligence capabilities, such as soil probes and irrigation systems with mobile phone notifications, which were at the disposal of farmers today.

They required capital investment but made farmers lives a lot easier.

In Mid Canterbury intelligent use of water had given farmers high-quality food products not decimated by drought conditions.

But as more extreme temperatures and climate change happened, there would be a greater need for more intelligent use of water for the cultural and economic wellbeing of New Zealand, and most of the world, he said.

With technology ''we can use less water more efficiently. It was unheard of in my day.''

Central Rural Life