Katie Milne has had alot on her plate since becoming Federated Farmers president last year. She is, at 48, the first female head of the organisation in its 118 years.
She is loving the challenge but now spends alot more time in corporate offices and city hotels than on the scenic family farm at Rotomanu on the West Coast.
Katie’s daughter Andi and her son-in-law Simon have taken over the day to day running of the dairy operation in the absence of Katie and her husband Ian, who does agricultural contracting.
“They’ve come home and are on the farm permanently and that’s actually why I can get way and be involved with the farming politics like I do” she says.
If she’s lucky she might get a day on the farm a week.
Her work at Federated Farmers covers a wide range of topics from dealing with environmental and animal welfare issues, to improving the image of farming by highlighting positive stories from the rural sector.
Being a farming leader comes naturally to Katie who has always wanted a fair deal for farmers.
She says one of the one of the biggest challenges she’s determined to tackle is the growing divide between rural and urban people and more school farm tours is a good starting point.
“We’re so disconnected now, everyone used to have a cousin, auntie, nana or granddad on a farm that you could go out and stay with but that’s getting less and less, so to expose them to how food’s produced and the effort that goes into that is really, really critical going forward I think.”