Heavy rain brings together farming community
OPINION: It seems the weather gods are conspiring against us, with unprecedented amounts of rainfall in Waikato over the last two months or so.
While the rain was at first welcome, now we've had too much and it has been particularly problematic in eastern Waikato, where there has been some devastating flooding. The damage will take many months and tens of thousands of dollars per farm to repair.
I'm sure the downpours won't douse the neighbourly spirit for which rural New Zealand is renown.
It's times like these when the farming community needs to pull together to help each other out. As with a drought, the mental toll and anguish at witnessing the destruction of crops, paddocks and in some cases businesses can be extreme.
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We need to check our neighbours are doing okay, to talk to each other and to help each other out in implementing a plan to get through the initial crisis period and later the recovery phase.
Farmers can be pretty stoic and many would probably rather keep things to themselves, thinking that they may a burden to others, but it is far more often the other way around. A problem shared is a problem halved, and that leads to solutions being found.
Being aware of the resources available is also essential. With this in mind, Federated Farmers has an 0800 help line for farmers who are desperately short of supplementary feed or grazing.
At one time or another we've all experienced, or can easily imagine, the burden on farmers who are thinking "How am I going to feed my stock?"
There are farmers in Waikato and Bay of Plenty who are in a very tough position financially as a result of the flooding.
Federated Farmers still requires donations of hay, silage, and maize to continue the great work this feed line has already brokered. For some farmers this may be an ongoing issue for some months to come.
Grazing is also running short for farmers who need to de-stock so any offers of grazing are gratefully accepted.
The 0800 327 646 line certainly demonstrated its usefulness after the Kaikoura-Hurunui earthquakes and this is another time when this service can play a vital role.
Another source of assistance for farmers in need is the Rural Support Trust. I cannot speak highly enough of these local heroes. They are available to talk through various issues with farmers who are struggling with financial and emotional problems that are often exacerbated in times of crisis. No person is an island.
Other organisations such as Rural Woman, the Ministry for Primary Industries and rural supply companies can all offer help where required, but they can't assist if they don't know about the problem, so please be proactive and seek help before it you start to perceive it as being insurmountable. Most often it won't be, and there are people willing to share the load.
It looks like it's going to be a long and difficult winter but with a little help from your friends there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Andrew McGiven is president Waikato Federated Farmers.