Farmers in Hawke's Bay have now experienced two successive years of bad droughts, which has stretched their farm management skills to the limit. Watching this and working with farmers to mitigate the problems are two experienced AgFirst farm consultants based in Hastings - Lochie MacGillivray and Phil Tither. They talked with reporter Peter Burke about what they have seen and what works best.
Farmers in Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough and Hawke's Bay are all being impacted by different stages of drought. It is important for those dry-affected farmers to reach out and talk.
As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. B+LNZ's Mark Harris advises: "Having a third party discuss your options with you can often help clarify your thinking and help with the critical decisions that need to be made going into the colder months."
Drought-affected farmers can also tap into the help and support offered by the likes of Fed Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ. A feed planning service is open to all livestock owners. This connects farmers who are short of feed with available sources of supplement, such as silage and hay. It can be accessed by phoning 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352) or 0800 DairyNZ (0800 432 479 69).
Another important source of assistance is the various Rural Support Trusts around the country. These were specifically established to help farmers through adverse events - such as droughts. The trusts are manned by farmers and people who understand farming.
Recently, the Government announced an extension of the current adverse event declaration, with another $900,000 of funding - including extra financial support earmarked for the Rural Support Trusts.
A number of Rural Trusts are planning events, such as woolshed barbecues, so farmers can get together, share a yarn and know that they're not on their own. Remember it is good to get off farm - even in the midst of a drought - so farmers should take advantage of attending these events when they come up.
As the old advertisement for a telephone company once advised: "It's good to talk".
Meanwhile, we will leave the final word to North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chair, Gayle Litchfield, who has some sage advice for those farmers experiencing tough times due to the dry - be kind to yourself and to your neighbours.
Hold on; it will rain again!