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Sector Comes Together To Support Drought-hit Farmers

Northland Inc’s Extension 350 has combined with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ to provide a reference point for farmers battling to respond to the effects of the worst drought in years.

This is being done by bringing together a number of Northland farmers who will share their responses to the situation via the Northland Inc website, with weekly updates on their current focus and actions.

“This sector-wide collaboration creates an overview to help farmers prioritise their actions, focus on their farms and manage their wellbeing through this extremely stressful period,” said Luke Beehre, Project Lead of Extension 350 (E350), the award-winning farmer-led and farmer-focused programme.

“E350 is all about providing a network for farmers, and to enable positive things to happen in their businesses and their home lives. So, it is vitally important at a time like this that farmers keep talking to each other, to their neighbours, and make sure they support each other and look after themselves.

“One thing that we’ve learned from previously challenging times is: don’t try to make decisions every day. That way you’ll dig yourself into a hole. Make decisions once a week and follow them, unless things change. It’s so easy, when the pressure is on, to become too insular; by encouraging people to talk to each other, share their information and stay in touch, we hope we can ease the burden of that pressure.”

Northland Inc CEO Murray Reade was quick to praise the resilience of Northland’s farmers. “Obviously, we’re deeply concerned by the issues facing farmers, but I strongly believe in their resilience. We’ve seen that before on a regular basis. I would say to the farmers: ‘don’t lose sight of how strong you are collectively’.”

Veronica Gillett, Extension Manager – Northern North Island, Beef + Lamb NZ, said she was “proud to be part of a team that had come together under tight time-lines” to assist farmers as the drought continued to bite deep and the dry weather showed little sign of letting up.

“We believe this collaboration leverages the collective power of our E350 network to improve the support and information offered to the wider farming community. I’m proud of everyone involved: mentors, consultants and farmers, who have stepped up to help others and give more of themselves, even when they are under pressure themselves.”

Tareen Ellis, DairyNZ Regional Leader, said it was hugely important for Northland Inc, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ to come together and “pool our resources to be more effective in helping famers with their decision-making”.

She added: “It is crucial that we all work together to deliver a way forward for farmers, and we make sure they are fully supported.”

To find out more about how farmers are responding to the drought, go to https://www.northlandnz.com/northland-inc/regional-initiatives/extension-350/northland-drought-response

If you feel you, or anyone you know, needs to talk to someone who really will understand - the Rural Support Trust is available for a confidential chat or they can point you in the right direction for further advice. Call 0800 787 254 to speak to someone in your own region or you can send them an email via their website http://www.rural-support.org.nz/Regions/North-Island/Northland

E350, part of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan, is supported by Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency, Ministry for Primary Industries, Northland Regional Council, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

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