Challenging first year for Waikato Feds president

Jacqui Hahn at home in the King Country.

A strong will and good grounding in the organisation helped Jacqui Hahn through an obviously challenging first year as Waikato Federated Farmers president.

“I say what I think,” says the King Country farmer. “You know where you are at with me.”

Waikato Federated Farmers’ annual meeting last April, where Jacqui stepped up after three years as vice-president, was held via Zoom amid the COVID lockdown which set the scene for the year to come.

She bunkered down in her “Rangitoto bubble”, near Te Kuiti, leading Zoom meetings every fortnight.

“We were in the middle of a drought as well.”

One of her key focuses from the outset as president was Waikato Federated Farmers’ budget, with COVID actually helping the bottom line.

Travel costs for meetings were cut.

“COVID played into our hands. We had some quite significant wins.”

She says Zoom also suits a lot of members, with Jacqui’s Waikato region stretching from Ohinewai to Tokoroa.

She similarly didn’t miss the three-hour round trip to the organisation’s headquarters in Hamilton.

Jacqui says COVID had hit the farm labour market, but this was improving going into the New Year.

“Farmers will try and do it themselves. It’s challenging.”

With farm amalgamations, Waikato Federated Farmers’ membership has fallen, but Jacqui says it remains important “to keep farmers’ voices heard” by local and central Government.

The organisation lodged a legal challenge to the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers policy, Plan Change 1, calling it “unclear and unworkable”.

With the matter before the Environment Court, Jacqui did not wish to comment on the appeal in detail but says areas of the policy “missed the mark”.

Farm effluent disposal is another hot topic between the regional council and Waikato Federated Farmers.

Jacqui says a majority of farmers are complying with council rules and regulations.

“We are not going to defend people who are doing the wrong thing,” she says. “The rules have been around for a long time. We have just got to get on and do it.”

Jacqui is part of a Federated Farmers’ working group on climate change, also involving central government and other industries.

She says her own farming experience, where she farms dairy, sheep and beef across four properties with husband, Sofus, helps in her role as Waikato president.

Involved with Federated Farmers in Waitomo for 12 years, Jacqui has a three-year term as provincial leader.


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