Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills attended the
Southern Field Days held at Waimumu recently, and took a moment
out from a busy schedule to talk to Southern Rural Life
reporter Leith Huffadine.
Q How are you enjoying Waimumu, Bruce?
A ''It's my first time visit to Waimumu so I feel very guilty
about that, but it is great to be here ... I go mostly to
Mystery Creek [field days], but this has a great feel to it -
far more rural.''
Q What does the year ahead look like for Federated
A ''It's worth mentioning that it's a year of change for
Federated Farmers. I am finishing my term in five months and
CEO Conor English is also stepping down, but it is exciting.
Change is good, it brings new opportunities an it's always
another business year. Our big issue is the same as 2013 -
water. We have to get this water stuff in a better place.
Agriculture needs to keep growing and make sure that it
continues to help drive the economy, but it is important that
we do that in a long-term, sustainable manner.''
Q Do you have any areas you also want to focus upon other
than water issues?
A ''I guess total focus is helping farmers achieve profitable
and sustainable farming. High pay outs this year are exciting
for the economy but we need to keep improving environmental
performance of farms.''
Q Where does New Zealand sit on the world stage at the
moment, and what are our prospects for agriculture?
A ''New Zealand farmers are world pastoral leaders and we
export 90% of what we produce. This is foremost as we have a
world screaming out for the high protein products that we
produce. In New Zealand we produce enough food per year to
feed 40 million people, so I think New Zealand is in a lucky
position - we are recognised as a world leader in safe, high
quality food and our future is very bright. The bottom line
is, I'm very optimistic for New Zealand farming and the
economy as a whole.''
Q What are some of the big challenges for agriculture in
the year ahead?
A ''We have got to grow agriculture but also do that with a
small footprint. A lot of work at the moment keeping economy
and environment in balance - water is big. A challenge will
be politics, the Government and election year. I have been
spending time with political parties to make sure they
understand the importance of agriculture [to the economy].''
Q How do you think farmers are responding and reacting to
new regulations and demands for more environmental
A ''Farmers are responding well. They are very good at
reading the environment and economy. The whole reason they
are still about is because they adapt to new situations. Some
things will take a while but we are going to get there. We're
on a good track.''