“Keep sharing the load by talking about it.”
No matter which branch of farming you are in, you will face tough times, says Nelson farmer and Horticulture NZ President Julian Raine. When that happens, don’t be too proud to ask for help.
Speaking to the Farming Show's Jamie Mackay as part of the Getting Through Adversity radio series, Julian said that even with the best planning, erratic weather events can cause mayhem. Jamie suggested that growing fruit crops is arguably one of the riskiest pursuits in farming: "One adverse event at the wrong time and suddenly your whole crop is wiped out. If you are a sheep farmer, for example, you at least have lambing spread over 3 weeks, or if you are dairy your risk is spread over 9 months of milking."
Julian agreed that horticulture sees different kinds of challenges to the slower burning such as drought or economic downturns, and that what he sees as increasingly erratic weather is impacting every farming or growing community.
"Hail and frost are our biggest enemies," said Julian. "Last December we suddenly lost a large chunk of one of our orchards to a freak hailstorm. However, we can invest in mitigating these known risks and in the last few years it has been generally very good for us. We have had positive returns, and despite the adverse events we have had good crops as well.
"No matter which industry you are in, the idea is to salt away while you have good years, but it doesn't always work that way."
Julian also farms dairy so is very involved in the economic challenges these farmers are currently facing. He agreed with Jamie that local Rural Support Trusts are essential in helping people get their heads around the issues and understand what support there is.
"Sometimes it's just to sit down and talk about the situation you are in, or to help you move forward talking to the bank or social services," he said. "The good thing for people in dairy is to remember that everyone's in the same boat. You are not experiencing something different from your neighbour, you are not isolated. It's really important to keep sharing the load by talking about it."
Produced in association with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Rural Support Trusts, Horticulture NZ and Beef & Lamb NZ, the Farming Show radio series shares farmer and grower experiences of getting through adversity, and encourages people to go to the organisations who are set up to help.
Farmers, growers, workers and their families facing adversity in its many forms are encouraged to call Rural Support Trusts on 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP) for a free, confidential chat.