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NZ Dairy Support Organization To Make House Calls
March 24, 2016

House calls will be made to 14,000 dairy farmers to check their well being and financial state during tough times, says DairyNZ. ¬†The industry good organisation expects to visit every dairy farmer throughout the country as part of its new campaign ‘touching base’.

DairyNZ programme facilitator, Palmerston North-based Rob Brazendale‚Äč said farmers were enduring as tough a time as had been experienced in a generation because of a low farm milk price, which was putting most farmers into debt.

About 50 people, including bankers, Federated Farmers, the Rural Support Trust people as well as farm advisors went to a DairyNZ response management meeting in Palmerston North designed to help farmers manage through tough times.

Brazendale said the low farm income was extremely serious for dairy farmers.

“We are very concerned. And if dairy farmers are not in the right state of mind, if there are red flags – it is getting services to support them quickly. The second thing is there are some serious financial issues,” he said.

“We are going to start with the non-engaged dairy farmers and we’re going to cold call on them.”

He said there would not be a strong agenda, rather it was a chance for DairyNZ consulting people to listen and see what issues were being faced by dairy farmers.

Brazendale said he was worried about sharemilkers as they were the most exposed financially.  A few sharemilkers owned cows, but the farm owner had the land and shares in Fonterra.

He said banks were supporting most dairy farmers, depending on their individual circumstances, and were taking a long term position when the were looking at their finances.

“They are positive in the sense the future is promising and it is a case of supporting people through the next two years. But it is a case of looking at each farm on its merits.”‘

Brazendale said there had been a few dairy farmer suicides. ¬†“But the thing we are saying, is no farmer needs to carry the burden alone. There is a lot of support out there.” ¬†Rural Family Support Trust Manawatu and Rangitikei co-ordinator Bruce Mills said few farmers had availed themselves of the trust support. ¬†The trust helped rural families with financial and personal support.

“I would have expected more. Perhaps people are coping better than we had thought. And there will be a few with their heads buried in the sand, not thinking about what the dowturn means for them,” Mills said. ¬†He said he had some sharemilkers to contact in the next few days.

Mills said the coming weeks might bring people out for trust support. ¬†“But you don’t know. At the moment we are quiet, It is often the spouse or a family member that tell us someone is under stress.” ¬†He said he had been talking to banks and they were surprised that few people had accessed the rural support trust. ¬†“A lot of it will be the debt level, but some people can handle stress better than others. That’s the hardest thing.”

Mills said often something tipped a farmer over the edge. ¬†“Like I heard of a child hurt in a car accident. It can be things outside the farm.” ¬†He said the trust was willing and ready to swing into action when someone contacted it for help. ¬†He said he was pleased DairyNZ was going to talk to all dairy farmers and thought that would be beneficial.

By: Jill Galloway


Summer 2018