Thursday, February 22, 2024

Rural advocacy is a team sport

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Last year Federated Farmers released 12 policy priorities for the new government, and seeing those policies implemented is another focus for Wayne Langford this year.
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Just like players on a rugby field, agricultural groups need to be clear on their specific roles and play them well if we want to win, Federated Farmers national president Wayne Langford says. 

Six months into his role as president, Langford says uniting the sector as one team, ensuring everyone is playing the right position, is one of his main goals for 2024. 

“I’m a coach of the local under-16 boys’ rugby team and I tell my boys every Saturday before they hit the park, ‘just do your job well and we’ll get a win out there’. 

“That same idea applies in the ag sector too. We’ve all got our own jobs to do, and we need to make sure we’re not cutting across in front of each other. Otherwise, we’ll knock the ball on and farming ends up losing.  

“That’s what I really want to work on in 2024 – making sure everyone is working together, sticking to their own jobs and doing them well.”

Before last year’s General Election, Federated Farmers released 12 policy priorities for the new Government, and seeing those policies implemented is another focus for Langford this year. 

“We’re really disciplined and clear about what we wanted from the incoming Government with our 12 key policies to restore farmer confidence. 

“That discipline and clarity paid off. The Coalition Agreements between National, ACT and New Zealand First had Federated Farmers’ fingerprints all over them.

“That’s a pretty awesome result for a farmer advocacy group, and for farmers as a whole, but the job’s only half done. 

“My focus now needs to be making sure the Government actually follow through and deliver the change they’ve promised to farmers and rural communities.”

Speaking on the newly launched Federated Farmers Podcast, Langford also discussed his mission to see Federated Farmers operating at its best as well. 

“My team will get sick of me hearing it, but Feds are quite a big organisation and it’s so important that we’re working as one team for farmers. 

“If we want to achieve all the things farmers are expecting us to, we need to be performing really well. That needs to be across the board, from the small meetings we do in the provinces right through to the big crunch moments when I’m sitting in front of the Prime Minister.” 

Langford says he takes the presidential role very seriously, especially given farmer confidence is at an all-time low, and he’s well aware of the negativity that can exist within and around farming.  

Even so, he’s determined to bring more positivity – and his own brand of humour – in his remaining two-and-a-half years as president. 

“I battle with that a little bit. Being a Federated Farmers president is a huge honour and it’s a highly regarded position within the farming community. There’s an expectation that you’ll act kind of statesman-like. That’s meant I’ve needed to tone back some of my jokes and banter at times. 

“I’m also really working to bring back some optimism for the sector. 

“I’m extremely positive about the future of farming and where we’re going together, but I’m also proud of our history and where we’ve come from. So, I’m hoping that kind of flows through.” 

Farmers who want to share their thoughts with Langford or Federated Farmers shouldn’t hesitate to pick up the phone, he says. 

“Federated Farmers is a ground-up organisation. We’re here to hear the farmers’ voice, so don’t ever feel like you can’t reach out.

“My phone does ring a fair bit, so I apologise if I can’t take every phone call, but certainly don’t be scared to flick me a text or message and just say what’s going on, whether it’s good or bad or whatever it is. It means we know that when we’re heading into meetings, that we’re really representing the grassroots farmers’ voice. 

“It’s really important to me that I’ve got the members’ voice behind me. So, if you’re ever sitting on the tractor and you want to reach out, do it, because I’d really appreciate the feedback.”

Hear the full conversation with Wayne Langford on episode one of the newly launched Federated Farmers Podcast, on Spotify, Apple or wherever you listen to podcasts

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