Newly-elected Ruapehu-Whanganui Rural Support Trust chairman Brian Doughty and his team still have work to do despite a buoyant farming sector.

When stock prices are high and markets for almost all classes of farm produce remain strong, farmers have far less stressful lives.

But Doughty, who took over as trust chairman from Richard Steele last month, said there were still niggles that got under the rural community's skin.

"We are funded by MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries) to ensure the wellbeing of the rural community is positive and while you would think there is not much to worry about in this buoyant environment, there is still work for us to do," Doughty said.


"Things causing the biggest problems for rural communities are Mycoplasma bovis and funny enough the Billion Trees Scheme. When M. bovis strikes there are often movement control limitations imposed called Notice of Direction. That affects beef and dairy farmers and we are there to help them through that process which can be quite stressful. Farmers have the choice of allowing us to help or dealing with it themselves.

"But the biggest stress at the moment is the billion trees. That is impacting heavily on some rural communities. When a large station is sold to forestry and blanket-planted in trees the traditional farming activity disappears, leaving those small rural communities to wither and die."

Farms generate seven jobs per thousand hectares, forestry just one. Schools shut down when pine trees close in and industry servicing those farms and small communities close down.

"Dairy prices, while okay at the moment, can often cause stress and then there are individual cases we are available to deal with," Doughty said.