THE LONG-HELD cliched stereotype of the Kiwi farmer, out in the paddock, black singlet and gumboots, worries limited to weather and the price of wool or milk couldn't be further from the truth.
The modern farmer also needs to be a businessman, a lawyer and, increasingly, an expert in computers and technology.
There is literally a minefield of laws, regulations, codes of practice, council plans and bylaws that farmers need to navigate daily.
Legal obligations exist around the management of farm workers, employment contracts, handling and storing of hazardous substances, animal welfare, stock crossings, wetland management, ACC, health and safety. The list seems never ending.
We are also seeing an increase in resource-consent requirements coming from local and regional councils.
A recent highly publicised example was the Otago Regional Council's "proposed plan change 6A", which if adopted as proposed will impact on every farmer in the region.
As a result of all these rules and regulations, the business of farming is becoming increasingly complex and direct intervention in farming activities is now a reality for most.
A key role of Federated Farmers is to help farmers keep these off-farm costs as low as possible and bureaucracy to a minimum. We work with government at all levels, from representation in key working groups and consultation processes at a national level, to policy staff submitting on every local and regional plan and bylaw proposal likely to impact on the rural area.
To enable farmers to concentrate on their business of farming, Federated Farmers offers a range of services to our members. In addition to the benefits from policy staff work, our members can also access free legal advice on everything from agricultural vehicles, animal welfare and ACC to employment, infrastructure and sharemilking.
We also offer a range a range of useful employment and farming contracts, agreements, books and merchandise at member-only rates.
To find out more about becoming a Federated Farmers member, contact 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646), visit www.fedfarm.org.nz or contact your local Federated Farmers field officer.
Kim Reilly is a Federated Farmers senior policy adviser.