Federated Farmers is one of the most powerful lobbying organisations in New Zealand; certainly the dominant voice amongst the many farming and rural groups.
When a new president is elected it makes the news, its CEO is the deputy Prime Minister's brother and when Fed Farmers doesn't like a government policy, it can play a significant part in forcing a backdown (remember the fart tax?).
It's a lobby with clout.
So when a new president goes on national television and announces a new era of engagement, it's worth taking note.
Bruce Wills, elected to the presidency just two month ago, was on Q+A on Sunday debating with Massey University environmental scientist Dr Mike Joy concerns about New Zealand's waterways and whether tourists arriving for the Rugby World Cup expecting a 100% Pure experience would be disappointed by the pollution in our lakes and rivers.
It's an issue that's gaining a foothold in people's minds, especially when the government is having to spend $81 million to clean up our iconic Lake Taupo.
About the same time Wills was winning the Fed Farmers presidency, the Environmental Court gave the green light to a new Waikato Regional Council policy that means cows numbers on the farms around the lake must be decreased, and decreased significantly.
The policy permits only one cow per two hectares - about a fifth of current stock numbers. Any more and the farmer needs to apply for resource consent.
Wills' predecessor Don Nicolson, now a candidate for ACT, reacted furiously to the initial court ruling back in 2008, saying, "If other councils think about using this decision in their plans, the federation is ready for a major fight."
Asked his position on the ruling, Will made a telling statement: "&The new regime that's running Federated Farmers wants to have a more open and honest discussion with the entire society about our environmental responsibilities, so my sense is that the approach will be quite different".
"A new age of entitlement," Paul Holmes asked.
"I hope so, because I think it's time," Will replied.
Are we about to see a greener, kinder farming lobby?
Will went on to say, "There's no question that we absolutely understand the importance of continuing to work towards this clean, green image, because that's what gives us the market edge".
And he's right. In a world where New Zealand producers will always struggle to compete on price, where we have less land than many countries and are further from market, our environmental record is our one clear competitive advantage when it comes to natural products.
And the political reality is that the gap between urban and rural seems to be widening, as the rural sector profits from the commodities boom while urban businesses and workers struggle through the downstream effects of the global financial crisis.
A recent KPMG report pointed to question of animal welfare, land ownership, milk prices and, yes, environmental protection as emotive issues that are turning city and town folk off their rural brethren.
Labour's recent sniping at farmers suggest it believes there are votes to be won in the cities by sticking it to the cockies, and that could have political and financial consequences for farmers. Or worse, as KPMG warns, decisions could be made "that have long-term, negative consequences on the economic wealth of all New Zealanders".
So farm leaders such as Bruce Wills have a tougher sell these days, and a more collaborative approach, one more open to modern environmental concerns, may be a very wise strategy indeed.
As Wills said, it's time to start not only talking the green talk, but for our farmers to start walking the walk, and that could mean tough decisions for farmers, especially dairy farmers.
But I suspect they'd rather rein in and clean up their own
industry than have others do it for them. So good luck Mr Wills,
here's to your new era of enlightenment.