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From fed to a fight for government

Ahead of Wairarapa Federated Farmers’ annual general meeting last night, meat and wool chair Mike Butterick confirmed to the Times-Age that he would be standing down from the position because he is contesting the region’s electorate seat as the National Party candidate.

“The formal process is that I will be stepping down at the meeting.

“I did it at the last election as well,” said Butterick, who added it’s important to protect the integrity of the rural organisation.

“I have been very mindful that Federated Farmers is – and needs to stay – apolitical. Since I’ve been selected I’ve made sure I have made a very clear line between the Federated Farmers stuff and the National Party stuff.”

Butterick was confirmed as the National Party’s Wairarapa candidate on March 19.

Wairarapa Federated Farmers president David Hayes said Butterick had been “excellent” in letting the organisation know about his political campaign and managing the potential conflict.

Butterick has been a “terrific and very proactive participant in the executive”, reliably coming up with constructive ideas and initiatives, Hayes said.

“The most obvious evidence of that is ‘How We Roll in the Rapa’, raising money and getting donations of fencing materials distributed through the Rural Support Trust.”

“He’s just been a champion with that, and he’s been the meat and wool chair, so he’s been a champion of interests of that part of our organisation too.”

Butterick said being able to run the ‘How We Roll in the Rapa’ campaign has been one of the highlights of his stint as meat and wool chair.

“It’s been great as part of Federated Farmers to implement something that has helped our fellow farmers; it’s a really cool thing to be able to have done.”

Because the material drop-off site is on his farm, he will continue to facilitate the campaign.

Butterick described his time in the meat and wool chair role as a privilege: “You have an opportunity to help bridge that disconnect that can exist at times between grassroots people and the rule makers.”

His resignation came just days after Andrew Hoggard stepped down from his role as Federated Farmers president following speculation he would be running for an ACT Party seat.

Hoggard confirmed his intent to run as Act Party’s candidate for Rangitikei on Tuesday.

He had been due to retire at Federated Farmers’ national annual general meeting [AGM] in July.

National vice president Wayne Langford has stepped in as acting president until the national AGM.

Hayes said Hoggard made the right call “given the circumstances”: “He did need to step down so that we’re not seen as being political, which we’re not.”

Hoggard had led the organisation through some tough challenges, said Hayes, who noted his portfolio had included He Waka Eke Noa and climate change – topics that continue to be hard for farmers and the organisation to wrangle.

“Hats off to him for all of the hard work that he has done,” Hayes said.

Hoggard joined Federated Farmers 18 years ago as the Young Farmers’ Representative to the Manawatu Provincial Executive.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time with Feds, and it’s opened up so many opportunities for me to do things and go places that I’d never have been able to if I’d just stayed on the farm instead of taking on roles with Feds,” Hoggard said.

“That being said, I’ve always prided myself on being a ‘hands-on farmer’ the whole way through this ride. I know from talking to many of you that you appreciated the fact that I have ‘kept it real’, as the saying goes – with video messages delivered while getting cows in, feeding calves, and even calving cows.”

Hoggard acknowledged there had been challenges and that he is looking forward to being able to have a weekend off – “after I take care of a few jobs I’ve been putting off on the farm”.

He thanked the Federated Farmers Board for their support over the past couple of weeks, and said the organisation was in great hands.

“To all those members who have given me a pat on the back or words of encouragement over the years – thank you so much. That’s what I’ve valued the most during my time with the organisation.”

Hoggard said he also wanted to thank his family for their support during his time with Federated Farmers.

“It’s not always easy balancing the demands of Feds with all the various issues that can go wrong on the farm, and the only way you can do it is with a supportive family. Especially, of course, my wife, who has been my rock through all the ups and downs.”

Wairarapa Federated Farmers announce new executive members today.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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