Still no end in sight as drought per­sists

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By JAMES HOUGHTON

THERE has hopefully been rain across most of the North Is­land but we are still a while from see­ing the end of the drought.

A shower or two fol­lowed by a re­turn to dry, sunny days could sim­ply help weed species be­come even more firmly rooted, while any re­gen­er­at­ing pas­ture that sprouted could be quickly burnt off again be­fore any ben­e­fits were felt.

I’m cross­ing my fin­gers for a stead­ier week of show­ers, in­ter­spersed with some sun­shine, to help our crisped pas­tures grow at the rate we need.

It has been clear from the Big Dry meet­ings or­gan­ised by Fed­er­ated Farm­ers Waikato that just about ev­ery­one in the coun­try­side is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some kind of drought-re­lated stress, from gra­ziers to farm equip­ment sup­pli­ers, farm own­ers to sharemilk­ers. There have been a few har­row­ing sto­ries and some good ad­vice shared.

At one meet­ing I at­tended, gra­ziers ad­mit­ted they were strug­gling to pro­vide feed prof­itably. Hopefully, they got some rain over the week­end, which could be the get-outof-jail-free card they have been look­ing for.

The rain that fell is not a drought-breaker. Fin­gers crossed that a new front is loom­ing on the hori­zon.

In the mean­time, it is so im­por­tant we keep our lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion open and op­er­ate within the law.

In stress sit­u­a­tions, there is al­ways an in­creased pos­si­bil­ity for greater mis­un­der­stand­ings to arise.

All con­trac­tors, in­clud­ing sharemilk­ers, need to be aware they can­not use the drought as an ex­cuse for not de­liv­er­ing on the terms of their con­tract.

There may be some ne­go­ti­ated lee­way if peo­ple are proac­tive in keep­ing their em­ploy­ers in­formed of the sit­u­a­tion and of what they are try­ing to do to man­age it.

How­ever, a con­tract is a con­tract and nei­ther side can wil­fully change the con­di­tions.

Sharemilk­ers and em­ploy­ers need to set aside any past griev­ances, as both sides of the busi­ness part­ner­ship need to come to an agreed man­age­ment plan.

If this proves dif­fi­cult, call in an in­de­pen­dent ad­viser to help reach a fair de­ci­sion.

Not coming up with an agreed work­able plan could lead to next year’s pro­duc­tion be­ing com­pro­mised and a busi­ness re­la­tion­ship coming to grief.

If you do not think you can meet pas­ture cover or herd con­di­tion re­quire­ments, seek help now from DairyNZ or other ad­vi­sory ser­vice and keep talk­ing.

This also goes for feed sup­pli­ers who are run­ning late on con­tracted de­liv­ery sched­ules.

There are sto­ries go­ing around of frus­trated farm­ers who have faced de­lays of more than a week.

When feed stocks are so tight, de­lays se­verely af­fect farm­ers’ abil­ity to feed their stock.

Ob­vi­ously some com­pa­nies have not learnt from the pros­e­cu­tions for break­ing con­tracts af­ter the last drought.

There may be some way to ne­go­ti­ate to an eas­ier space but this can­not be taken for granted.

Ev­ery­one is parched and no-one is go­ing to have any sym­pa­thy for those who

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