Farm­ers pre­pare for an­other dry sum­mer


Adrier than nor­mal Oc­to­ber will will not ‘‘kill’’ South Waikato dairy farm­ers’ morale but a Toko­roa dairy in­dus­try leader be­lieves it pays to be aware and serves as a chance to pre­pare early for sum­mer.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers’ Toko­roa chair­woman Mary-Ann Mathis told Ru­ral De­liv­ery that rain­fall this Oc­to­ber had dropped by two thirds when com­pared with last Oc­to­ber.

In Oc­to­ber 2009, 207mm of rain fell. This Oc­to­ber only 64mm of rain was recorded.

When com­pared with Oc­to­bers in pre­vi­ous years, this year’s rain­fall is dras­ti­cally less than char­ac­ter­is­tic.

In Oc­to­ber 2007, Mrs Mathis said 184mm of rain was recorded, com­pared with 230mm in Oc­to­ber 2008.

But she said the lack of rain is not a rea­son to panic.

‘‘Last Oc­to­ber has turned out to be al­most the com­plete op­po­site to this Oc­to­ber. Oc­to­ber 2009 was rainy and frosty, where as last month was pre­dom­i­nantly warm and sunny.

‘‘One dry month doesn’t kill things but we as farm­ers are to­tally de­pen­dent on the weather. I think the last three or so dry years we have had has also made the wider com­mu­nity aware of just how re­liant we are.

‘‘We’ve just come out of a tough wet spring this year where, at least in my case, pro­duc­tion was down.

‘‘Farm­ers just gen­er­ally learn to cope with the weather they are given.’’

But Mrs Mathis en­cour­aged farm­ers to get help early if things got tough.

‘‘When things do get tough don’t just stay at home, put the cheque book away, lock up the house and not get help when you need it.

‘‘If you do that you’re in trou­ble. Get help early.’’

That help could in­clude sourc­ing al­ter­na­tive feed and many other op­tions, Mrs Mathis said, but per­haps one of the best strate­gies was reach­ing out to your farm­ing neigh­bour.

An­other av­enue for farm­ers is the Ru­ral Sup­port Trust and trustee Norm Barker said the trust was there 24 hours a day, seven days a week to be an as­set to farm­ers.

Mr Barker, who is also En­vi­ron­ment Waikato’s re­gional councillor for the South Waikato and Ro­torua area, said the trust had a meet­ing re­cently and one of the is­sues dis­cussed was the weather and the need for rain.

‘‘While there hasn’t been a lot of rain, we can’t at this stage put ev­ery dif­fi­culty in the cur­rent farm­ing en­vi­ron­ment down to the weather.

‘‘But what we do know is that there are a lot of farm­ers out there who are strug­gling with fi­nan­cial stress at the moment.’’

Any­one need­ing as­sis­tance from the Ru­ral Sup­port Trust can call 0800 787 254.


FEEL­ING THE HEAT: A drier than nor­mal Oc­to­ber could be a sign of a long, dry sum­mer to come

for farm­ers.

Photo: FILE

MARY-ANN MATHIS: A dry sum­mer will be tough but not in­sur­mount­able for farm­ers.

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