Skookum– powerful; excellent, first-rate; impressive; strong; brave.
Rural Women New Zealand has launched a “Feeling Rotten” survey on the causes and effects of anxiety and depression in rural communities.
“In 2006 our “Feeling Rotten” survey revealed a high level of anxiety and depression in rural areas,” says Rural Women NZ executive officer, Noeline Holt. “Causes varied, but for women, post-natal depression was reported as a significant factor.”
“We’d like to know what’s changed in the six years since then, to help guide us in our advocacy role, and in providing practical help in rural communities.”
Rural Women NZ is working with agricultural-based organisations such as Federated Farmers and Dairy Women’s Network to find ways of combating depression following recently released figures from the Ministry of Health showing there are significantly more suicides per head of population in rural than in urban areas. . .
“We recently provided funding for extensive counselling services to rural families in Canterbury following the earthquakes, for example,” says Ms Holt.
She says most people have felt the blues or been pessimistic or unfulfilled at some point in their lives.
“These feelings may be driven initially by anxiety, particularly if we have no control over what is causing our anxiety. While it is normal to feel these emotions, if they continue for too long they may be signs of depression.”
Anyone who lives in a rural areas is invited to participate in the survey which is here.
“At the mid-point in what is a tough 2012/13 season, we are seeing some improvement in confidence since the start of this season. That masks a real split between dairy and the rest of pastoral agriculture,” says Federated Farmers President, Bruce Wills.
“Undoubtedly rising global dairy prices and upward revisions in payout forecasts have helped the dairy sector regain some confidence. Then again, this comes off deep pessimism recorded at the start of the season and things are hardly buoyant now.
“Then we have the strong Kiwi dollar acting like a sea anchor on all export returns.
“What dairy farmers are saying is that they are less pessimistic but this is not the breaking of a new dawn. The good news for the economy is that dairy farmers expect to increase production and spending, with only a small drop in those expecting to reduce debt.
“On the other hand, in the sheep, beef and grain sectors, confidence continues to sink. Meat and fibre farmers have seen prices reverse while the high dollar erodes what they ultimately get paid.
“Beef had been treading water but just this week dropped ten cents per kilogram.
“Sheep farmers are feeling the heat because lamb prices are down around 35 percent on the same time last year. Wool is also struggling and this has seen meat and fibre farmers become even more pessimistic about their profitability.
“That pessimism continues into the wider economy, with a growing sense of frustration about filling skilled vacancies.
“All farmers agree they are struggling to find skilled and motivated staff and this seems odd given unemployment figures. Skilled and motivated dairy staff are especially hard to find so is there a mismatch between where people live as opposed to where the jobs are?
“And these jobs are not low skilled or low paid either. I can say that having reviewed Federated Farmers Farm Remuneration survey we send to our members.
We’ve always had less trouble finding good people for sheep and beef farms than for dairying.
However, the good ones we’ve got in dairying are very good – enthusiastic, motivated and skilled.
“Unlike last season, the mild El Nino means sheep and beef production will likely be down this season. Sheep and beef farmers cannot increase production to offset lower prices and the high dollar.
“As the survey was in the field in the first half of January, the current dry spell will be of mounting concern. We are also aware the ‘dry’ is now biting into dairy production in the North Island especially.
It’s been raining off and on in North Otago all morning which is very welcome after the hot weather of the last couple of weeks.
“While some dairy farmers expect to increase debt most do not, however, more meat and fibre farmers expect to reduce spending and increase debt to get through. It is a concern as agricultural debt approaches $50bn, then again, households now owe over $191bn.
“You can summarise the big issues of concern to farmers as the increasing cost of farming staples, including the cost of regulation and compliance, what we are getting paid for our products and of course, that high Kiwi dollar.
The high dollar also means imports, including big ticket ones like fuel, fertiliser and machinery, are less expensive.
When debt servicing is a major cost, low interest rates are also benefiting farmers.
“It underscores the need for the Government to focus its spending on those things that will increase production while simplifying and streamlining regulation. It may not be ‘sexy’ but it is what the economy desperately needs.
“Tackling the high dollar starts not with a printing press, but by central and local government cutting back on borrowing. While some agriculture debt is about survival, government still has an entrenched ‘borrow and spend’ culture that needs to change.
“Cutting seems to be the policy option ‘that dare not speak its name’ in some quarters.
“Our 2012/13 Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey shows pastoral farming to be in two speeds. It is encouraging that dairy farmers are more positive than six months ago, but the deepening pessimism of meat and fibre and our grain farmers is concerning.
“We can only hope the second half of the 2012/13 season turns around because the global demand is there and the recently announced Primary Growth Partnership for red meat must deliver what Federated Farmers has striven for; unity,” Mr Wills concluded.
Survey results are here.
Following up her post on what kills us, Siouxsie Wiles breaks down the statistics by gender:
Its striking that more men die of prostate cancer than women die of ovarian, and twice as many men than women die from cancer of the bladder and kidney. But lots more women die of cerebrovascular diseases, that is strokes and brain haemorrhages, and dementia. . .
This is important information for health policy – is the money spent on education, prevention and treatment going where the need is greatest?
Another Waitangi Day, another story about Titewhai Harawira.
Ngapuhi trustees are trying to oust Titewhai Harawira, from her self-appointed role as the kuia who escorts dignitaries, including the prime minister, onto the lower marae at Waitangi.
But they are concerned Ms Harawira may disrupt ceremonies if she is not allowed to keep her role.
Ngapuhi leader Kingi Taurua said the trustees have decided that other kuia should be given the opportunity to be part of the Waitangi celebrations.
Mr Taurua said that unlike Ms Harawira, other kuia work hard on the marae and should be rewarded for their work. . .
Ho, hum – it’s not so much a news story as deja vu.
Who can blame Tariana Turia who is refusing to return to Te Tii Marae this year because of past displays of violence on Waitangi Day?
The Labour caucus is meeting this morning.
In the normal course of events the party would be hoping for media attention to focus on its policy or attacks on the government.
Instead of which attention will be on the leadership vote, required by last year’s change of rules.
It’s almost certain David Shearer will get the 60% of the vote plus one required to retain the leadership.
David Cunliffe has said he’s supporting Shearer and there’s no sign of anyone else wanting to issue a challenge, at least for the time being.
But will this be a Pyrrhic victory?
Winning because no-one else is willing, or has the support, to challenge is not the same as winning because he has the total confidence of his caucus.
Today’s vote will be a win for now but not necessarily a win for long.