I spend much of my job travelling through majestic countryside and I spend much of that time talking to interesting people with something to say.
And I'm hearing a very common message and theme ... Frustration.
Farmers and their communities are frustrated. Farmers feel isolated and up against the wall, having to chase their tails to keep up with new rules dished out in a hurry by either someone in Wellington or their local councils.
I'm hearing of people who want to leave the industry, but they don't know what to go to — nor if where they land will be any better.
The future looks hard and they don't know what to do to survive it.
That's where I step in. If there was ever a time when farmers and their communities needed to band together, that time is now. Federated Farmers is a very vocal branch of your community and acts on all issues that affect farmers and farming.
Local Feds executives advocate on sensible use of local rates as well as everything from biosecurity to the nutrient management system Overseer.
Often people don't realise what Feds is doing until they get firsthand experience of the issues we deal with.
Feds execs and staff work hard to make sure no one gets slapped with out-of-the-blue cost increases on compliance, and that our members' concerns get oxygen. We've worked hard on changes to local environment policy, rates, infrastructure, biosecurity, mental health and wellbeing.
I frequently hear complaints that Feds is not active or aggressive enough. Well, often advocacy groups don't get to publicly brag about their wins because the idea is everyone involved in a decision is able to keep face, and if you do brag and slam your opposition it makes it harder to attend a future negotiation in good faith.
Advocacy is a long game and not about scoring points.
It's interesting times ahead now for everyone.
You either try to step up by yourself and voice your concerns on new policies — strategies on the environment; stock exclusion; the RMA; biosecurity; infrastructure priorities etc or (and) support Federated Farmers to be your voice.
Craig Sole is Federated Farmers Whanganui territory manager