The devastating effect of four months of continual rain last year left farmers in difficulty due to a lack of growth.
Well, it finally stopped raining and smiles appeared all round ... except it didn’t rain again for more than 40 days. This was the death knell for some, especially in the coastal areas of Taranaki where traditionally they get rain from the south-westers which drop regular moisture. Sadly, this year those fronts have come across the northern and eastern parts of the country, leaving a parched and burnt strip down our west coast.
This has resulted in many farmers having to cull stock and dry off herds. These consequences will be felt throughout the farming service sector for years to come.
These farmers will need help. To survive they will need to (in some cases) re-drill new grass, level out badly pugged paddocks and apply capital fertiliser to get that fertility back up. In short, they need grass to feed the animals. Throw in the fact that a lot could not make hay, and we have a recipe for some serious help needed here.
The question I ask is ‘what can the rest of us do to help these farmers get back to being productive entities again?’
Farmers are resilient, tough people who just get on with it, but anyone can crumble when the elements are against you, and you stand helpless watching your stock deteriorate right before your eyes.
That dreadful decision to have to send Daisy to the pasture in the sky can be very stressful. Firstly, give these farmers an ear, or a shoulder, or what about a big old ‘man hug’? Just let them know you are sharing the load with them.
If you are a farm service business, like we are, get in there straight away, and if you think you can help spread their load as an act of kindness for past custom, just do it.
They may be reluctant to ask as most are a proud breed, so get in first.
Our company has pledged to hold prices the same for these people even though we have had a big fuel and parts rise over the past few months.
A couple of weeks back I drove round some of our worst-affected clients (and some non- clients) with a boot load of coldies and chardonnay. That may seem cynical but it was well-received.
Without the farmers we would not have the business we have. Many are looking for hay for the winter. If you have some spare, how about selling it at a fair rate, or better still, can you donate a few bales, like the farmers of Taranaki did for the Southlanders in the early 90s?
I will never forget being a part of ‘The Last Great Challenge’(the first ‘rubber ducky’ traverse around New Zealand to raise funds for a stadium) and arriving at Tuatapere’s pub to be asked by the publican, Dave McNae “From Taranaki?...-the next three days are on the house son!”
We will use our trucks to backload for free any hay we can find for these people, as they need help at this time. It’s not all ‘what can these farmers do for themselves?’ it’s ‘what can we do for them?’Together we can help each other out. Like a slogan in the last election ... let’s do this.