Fi­nances, work­load stress farm­ers

Fam­i­lies urged to seek help early

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

Re­search on 1000 dairy farm­ers na­tion­wide re­veals the top causes of stress for dairy farm­ers are fi­nances, work­load, re­la­tion­ships and health.

AgRe­search re­search leader, se­nior so­cial sci­en­tist Neels Botha, said the most im­por­tant mes­sage was that farm­ers and their fam­i­lies should seek help for stress be­fore is­sues be­came crises.

Dr Botha said the four lead­ing causes of dairy farmer stress were not ranked in any par­tic­u­lar or­der, be­cause all were equally valid and de­served at­ten­tion.

‘‘With fi­nances, farm­ers with high debt lev­els and other fi­nan­cial pres­sures can ex­pe­ri­ence high lev­els of stress.

‘‘For some farm­ers this can be­come chronic stress, where they worry about their fi­nances all the time, " Dr Botha said.

‘‘Stress from work­load re­lates to the sheer amount of work peo­ple have to do on farms.

‘‘This is par­tic­u­larly the case with calv­ing, when there is so much on and farm­ers can’t do on­go­ing du­ties while they tend to cows calv­ing,’’ he said.

In re­la­tion­ships farm­ers could ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fi­cul­ties with farm staff and in farm man­age­ment, Dr Botha said, with this stress at times fil­ter­ing into per­sonal re­la­tion­ships.

‘‘Prob­lems can arise with farms that were once small but have now had to bring in out­siders, as farm sizes get big­ger and farm­ers get older,’’ Dr Botha said.

Health is­sues caus­ing stress for dairy farm­ers re­lated ei­ther to their own health or the health of their fam­ily mem­bers.

‘‘With farm­ers get­ting older in New Zealand age-re­lated con­di­tions can present chal­lenges while do­ing phys­i­cal farm­ing work. And a lot of farm­ers have older par­ents to care for, which can cause stress. ‘‘This all ties up with work­load and not hav­ing time to do what you need to do.’’

The re­search has been car­ried out over the past three years and will continue for at least an­other four years.

The work is part of a Dairy Farmer Well­ness and Well­be­ing Project, co-funded by DairyNZ and the Gov­ern­ment’s Pri­mary Growth Part­ner­ship.

Dr Botha said the re­search was de­signed to build a pic­ture of what was hap­pen­ing so bet­ter sup­port net­works and re­sources could be de­vel­oped to help farm­ers be­fore they ‘‘hit the wall’’.

Wairarapa News

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