Better mobile coverage and tidying up rural rubbish collection are on the minds of members of the Whanganui Rural Community Board, chairman Grant Skilton says.
Poor or patchy mobile coverage at his family's Maxwell farm makes it impossible to use farm management apps that rely on continuous coverage.
Palmerston North service provider Inspire Net has filled lots of coverage gaps, but there are still times when he cannot make a phone call from the farm.
"We are trying to promote rural broadband and mobile black spot coverage, and through our suggestions and submissions there are new sites going in in Fordell, Mangamahu and areas of the Paraparas," he said.
Rural rubbish collection sites are another bugbear. They have attracted lots of illegal dumping. Rural people are seeing appliances, mattresses and unstickered rubbish bags left around, attracting rats and looking awful.
"It's a major issue with no easy answers, because fly-tipping versus more frequent clearing all cost money," Skilton said.
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The board will submit on the changes Whanganui District Council proposes to its bylaw on keeping animals, bees and poultry - changes that will affect lifestylers.
And it always submits on the council's annual plan, and the annual plan of Horizons Regional Council. Board members have been to each of the four major workshops that formed Whanganui's plan, Skilton said.
They are invited to both council committee and full council meetings. Skilton goes to full council ones and has speaking but not voting rights. Other members attend committee meetings, where they can vote as well as speak.
The board doesn't fight with its council, as others in New Zealand have, Skilton said.
"We are a part of the team."
It usually meets six-weekly, with council officers bringing information. The meetings are open to the public.
At the moment Covid-19 restrictions have suspended all meetings. Members will instead consult among themselves by email, and convene by audio conferencing if an urgent matter arises.
With the election of Peter Oskam, the board has its full complement of seven members - three who have "reasonably large-scale agribusinesses", lifestylers and a retired civil engineer. The Whanganui councillors appointed to it are Charlie Anderson and Brent Crossan.
Skilton is a partner in his family's Aorere Farms, responsible for 6000 animals - mainly pigs raised for slaughter, beef cattle and dairy heifers.
Farming is classed as an essential service so he will keep working through the pandemic. He has to worry about whether feed will be available, whether there will be trucks to bring it and, if the number of sick people rises and whether there will be workers to process the animals.
The drought was already a worry, as was increasing regulation related to water quality, biodiversity and climate change.
"A lot of those things are the fear of the unknown. We feel under fire. The Covid scenario is on top of that," he said.