Barnaby Joyce's call to skip the NSW Nationals' annual conference is "probably a good decision", according to the party's state leader.
John Barilaro said while Mr Joyce had every right to attend the summit in Cowra, he thought it was important the former deputy prime minister took time to "heal".
"He's decided not to come, and it's probably a good decision, where he's looking after his family," Mr Barilaro told reporters in Cowra on Friday.
The deputy premier said he was not aware of rumours any senior MPs had asked Mr Joyce not to attend the conference.
"He's on leave and I think there's been a lot said in the public domain about what's happening in his world, in his life," Mr Barilaro said.
Mr Joyce, whose partner and former staffer Vikki Campion recently gave birth to their son, has been on sick leave since last month.
Scores of Nationals MPs, members and delegates are debating a range of the party's policies over Friday and Saturday in the NSW country town.
Motions range from a proposed yearly cap of 100,000 on immigration to calling for autopsies to be carried out in regional hospitals.
Mr Barilaro addressed the conference on Friday morning, saying he believed the Nationals had "steadied the ship" since the party's shock 2016 loss to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party in Orange.
He pointed to last year's by-election wins in Murray and Cootamundra as evidence.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack told the conference the Nationals were "fighters" and thanked his predecessor, Mr Joyce, for his contribution.
"He leaves a fine legacy for our party," Mr McCormack said, adding it was a good thing Mr Joyce had decided to continue on as the member for New England.
The conference, meanwhile, passed a motion supporting the live export trade.
In support, federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud told members the government was taking measures to improve live export conditions.
"What you saw on that boat was wrong ... but that's not every ship," Mr Littleproud said of recent vision showing sheep suffering on export boats.