Change at top for Southland farmers

Outgoing Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird (right) offers his congratulations to incoming president Geoffrey Young at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM recently. Photos: Nicole Sharp
Outgoing Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird (right) offers his congratulations to incoming president Geoffrey Young at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM recently. Photos: Nicole Sharp
Greens party co-leader and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw faces farmers on the hot topic of climate change at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM.
Greens party co-leader and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw faces farmers on the hot topic of climate change at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM.

Cattle Flat Station farmer Geoffrey Young is the new Southland Federated Farmers president.

After three years in the position, Dipton dairy farmer Allan Baird stood down from the role at the recent Southland Federated Farmers AGM at the Bill Richardson Transport Museum.

In his final president's report, Mr Baird said it was with mixed emotions he gave his final address as president.

''I have been honoured to lead this organisation over the last three years and I thank the support of the Southland executive.

''It is a demanding role, however it gives as well as it takes.''

In his time as president, he said pressures had came on farming from many directions, including Mycoplasma bovis and Environment Southland's Water and Land Plan.

Coming to the tail end of the plan, after much consideration, Federated Farmers had decided to appeal the plan, Mr Baird said.

Mycoplasma bovis on the other hand, was a disease Southlanders most likely knew little about before July last year and in December the worst was confirmed and it was in Southland, he said.

''This outbreak has placed a huge toll on many Southland businesses and families. It will be several years before these farmers see normality again.''

He acknowledged the Rural Support Trust and the work they had been doing to help farmers dealing with the disease.

Mr Young, who takes over from Mr Baird, was the Southland Federated Farmers vice-president and High Country chairman.

Growing up in Western Southland, Mr Young was born and raised on a farm near Tuatapere which was fourth generation with the Young family.

In 1993, he bought Cattle Flat Station in Northern Southland.

''I have big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of our president Allan Baird,'' he said.

Meat and wool chairwoman Bernadette Hunt was voted in as senior vice-president, while Arable chairman Chris Dillon was elected junior vice-president.

Mr Young will also continue in his role as High Country chairman.

Special guest to the meeting was Green Party co-leader and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw.

Mr Shaw said he thought there had been some incredible work going on in the agriculture sector and in farming.

''It gives me a great deal of hope for our common future not just environmentally but climatically as well.''

There were individual farmers as well as industry groups who were leading the way in the environmental space, he said.

''Things have changed and keep on changing ... We are living in a time of extraordinary change.''

''I'm an absolute believer in the industry's vision for itself, the idea that New Zealand can be one of the most productive and high valued producers of food in the world and for the world.''

Looking at the bigger picture, his three focus points at present were the Zero Carbon Act, changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme and the formation of the interim Climate Committee, which was set up at the end of April.

 

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