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