Too much weather

Southern contractors are struggling in wet and cold weather:

The dreadfully wet season being experienced in the southern part of the country is leaving many rural contractors and farmers under huge pressure and stress, claims Rural Contractors NZ.

 RCNZ vice president and Southland-based contractor David Kean says there are reports of contractors not being able to get work done, struggling with their finances and some having to lay staff off.

“Many contractors are really feeling it and the stress is starting to tell on both them and their businesses. Our advice is simple: ask for help and talk to the appropriate agencies before things get out of hand,” he explains.

Meanwhile, there’s the opposite problem in Canterbury – which has had lots of strong, cold Norwest winds and very little rain over the past couple of months – meaning there is very little work to do now after a busy start to the season. 

Mr Kean says if rural contractors are struggling to pay bills and/or staff they should be in contact with both Work and Income NZ and the IRD for assistance and advice.

“It is far better for people to be proactive; admit they have issues to deal with and seek the appropriate help – rather than just bottling it up or letting any problems get out of hand.

“Both IRD and WINZ are there to provide help in these kinds of situations and they have the people and expertise to offer advice and assistance.”

Mr Kean says Rural Contractors NZ is also there to help members and to act as support network for contractors who are feeling under pressure.

“However, we are not experts in financial matters or if people are coming under mental duress,” he adds.

“We are telling people they should be talking with their accountants and financial advisors about their business and with their families and medical professionals if they are under pressure themselves.”

The chair of the Rural Health Alliance Aoteoroa NZ (RHAANZ) Dr Jo Scott-Jones agrees.

“We know rural people tend to delay seeking help until they can no longer work, but it is true that a ‘stitch in time saves nine’”, Dr Scott-Jones says.  “Talking to a GP or practice nurse about stress seems to cause people difficulty. But anyone in this situation should know it is never as hard as you think and the benefits that flow from sharing some of the burden and talking through the way you feel can be enormous.”  

 Mr Kean adds that talking with professionals, as well as family and friends is an important step in getting the proper advice and help – when and where it is needed.

“Farmers also need to be aware of the pressure contractors are under and have to be realistic about getting work done,” he adds. “The last couple of months have been so wet that even if the weather cleared today it is going to take a long time to clear the back log of work and get everyone caught up again.”

Further north it was too wet in winter and now it’s too dry:

Weeks of persistent wind with little rain are putting farmers on edge in eastern areas of the country, from Gisborne to Canterbury.

Federated Farmers Gisborne Wairoa president Sandra Faulkner said soil moisture levels in that region were well down on normal for the time of year. . .

We didn’t really have a summer last year then had a very wet start to winter but we’ve had little significant rain since July and there’s all the signs of a looming drought.

That doesn’t mean we’re having good weather, it’s still cold which is slowing pasture growth and potato crops.

In contrast, a wet winter, less sunlight and cooler temperatures are being blamed for hampering potato crops and creating a shortage of the vegetable.

Potatoes New Zealand said there was more demand than growers could supply and that was having a flow on effect on companies such as potato chip processors.

Chief executive Champak Mehta said none of the previous season’s crops were left in storage and the new season’s potatoes were taking longer to hit the shelves. . .

North Otago is justly famed for its new potatoes but picking started only a week or so ago.

We didn’t plant ours in the garden until after labour weekend and they’re still a good couple of weeks ago from giving us anything to pick.

But I bought a box of Rare Earth  Jersey Bennes at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market on Sunday – they were delicious.

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