Raetihi farmer John Journeaux is stepping away from Beef + Lamb NZ's Western North Island Farmer Council, and Taihape lawyer and farmer Andrew Thomas has just been elected to it.
Journeaux, who has completed two three-year terms on the council, started his time there as a co-opted member. He said he would continue to keep an eye on its activities and lend a hand.
Thomas also began his time on the council as a co-opted member, before being elected.
The council, which meets four times a year, has 16 members and is chaired by Parapara farmer Bevan Proffit. It exists to link farmers with Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+L NZ), an organisation funded from a levy on lamb and beef as it is processed.
Its western North Island region extends from Wellington to north Taranaki, and takes in Ruapehu. It has an annual delivery plan, keeps farmers abreast of new regulation and organises information days.
The annual showcase for this area is the AgInnovation conference held at Awapuni in Palmerston North.
Journeaux's property is a 660ha hill country sheep and beef farm, and he's keeping up with new requirements by fencing his streams.
"It's already been quite helpful for running the stock. It's kept cattle out of the gorges and provided pathways that make mustering easier," he said.
But some of the Essential Freshwater rules have the potential to be difficult for farmers if they are implemented as written. One requires a resource consent for winter forage crops on land with slopes of more than 10 degrees.
A lot of land is steeper than that, and 20 degrees was the slope limit farmers had expected.
There are also rules about aerial cropping. Using helicopters to spray and sow crops from the air has been very successful in lifting the production on hill country farms like Journeaux's.
"That's been the biggest benefit to our farm. It enables us to finish a lot more stock to good weights from having improved pastures," he said.
One of his next tasks is likely to be adding more trees as shelter belts.
"The one thing that's impressed me in my time on the council was the amount of work the B+L NZ staff do in every year. They're probably a bit under appreciated by farmers," he said.
Thomas grew up on a sheep and beef farm at Windwhistle in the Rakaia Gorge, then got a degree in law and the arts at Otago University. He joined the army, had several deployments and has worked as a lawyer in London and Auckland.
He married Emma Batley, and in 2017 the couple moved to her family's 955ha sheep and beef farm at Mataroa, near Taihape. Thomas now works for Whanganui law firm Treadwell Gordon, at its Taihape office, as well as farming. He is a specialist in land law.
One thing he hopes to focus on in the B+ L NZ role is improving the mental health of farmers and farm workers.