How can you support your rural community?

It’s often said that life will only throw as much at us as we can handle. But sadly, that just isn’t always the case.The recent report that the rural suicide rate has remained stubbornly high despite huge work in this space was sadly no real surprise. There’s a useful analogy that likens our coping ability to a glass of water: each new stress is like turning on the tap, and we “drink from the glass” when we do things to relieve pressure.

It would be fair to say that for the farming sector, there’s been a pretty constant flow into that glass over the last few months. Droughts, floods, increasing regulation, Mycoplasma bovis, HT swedes, and general mud-slinging. There are many glasses at capacity — and too many have overflowed. Rural Support Trust, Farmstrong, The Resilient Farmer and others working in this space are doing an amazing job, and can probably take a lot of credit for the stats remaining stable in the face of so much adversity.

It is hard to know what else we could or should be doing. A quote I came across from Winston Churchill recently has been really helpful for me: “If you stop and throw stones at every barking dog, you’ll never reach your destination.” This works for me on many levels. I can’t solve every problem, change the view of every “anti-farmer”, or save every weak lamb. I need to pick my battles and limit the amount of water filling up my glass. And I need to take drinks — watch a movie with my kids, have a glass of wine or a bath (or both), go to bed early… not every day, and not because I have to, but because it helps.

The other thing that helps me is helping others — if I can use the challenges I’ve faced to contribute to some greater good, that is taking a drink from the glass for me. For those farmers caught up in the Mycoplasma bovis response, the toll is immense. The Ministry for Primary Industries is struggling to find the people to fill rural-based positions to support them. MPI is happy to take people part-time and be as flexible as possible to get the roles filled with the right people, preferably people who understand farming.

Could you support affected farmers? Could you take on a parttime or full-time role, or know someone else who could? If so, look for the job ads on the Assure Quality website, or contact Federated Farmers and perhaps help stem that flow of water into the glasses of some people who really need support.

Also support Farmstrong by getting involved with what they are doing and let your friends, neighbours and community know about Farmstrong.

This article was published by The Ensign, Gore, Southland on 26 October 2018. Permission to republish the articles content has been given by the author Bernadette Hunt, Southland Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairwoman.

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