The only piece I will ever proffer is to share the pain

24/09/2020

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller tells his story for Mental Health Awareness Week:

Mental health challenges had always been other people’s issues. Being an MP introduced me to some of the challenging journeys that many in our community live, but I was fine, I never had an issue previously even when life and jobs had thrown me curveballs.

Then on the evening of May 27, while being driven back home from Auckland to Tauranga, I had a panic attack for the first time in my life. Sure, it had been a rough couple of days of media criticism, but I was heading home and had finished a couple of great conversations with mentors and supporters. I was looking forward to seeing my wife and kids before a day out in my electorate.

It started with an intense prickling sensation in my head, followed by what I would describe as “waves” of anxiety. I had never experienced these sensations before, despite having lived through some very high-pressured moments at Fonterra dealing with global food safety scares.

I tried to stem these sensations of dread by taking as many deep breaths as possible and forcing my mind to focus on something else, anything else. I managed to hold it together until I walked into my wife’s arms and broke down in a very deep and painful way.

As Michelle did many times over the subsequent 50 days, she comforted me, soothed these feelings of wretchedness with unconditional love and positivity. I awoke the next morning tired, but excited for the day that lay ahead.

The next weekend it came back again, this time with even more ferocity. Night sweats, a deep sensation of anxiety and nausea, shortness of breath and the ongoing prickly buzz and sense of tightening pressure in my head. That attack lasted 15 minutes, but the tightening pressure on my head stayed with me until the end. . . 

. . . In the end, the frequency and intensity of the panic attacks took me to a place where I had to step away from the fire, the anxiety and the pain.

I am now a few months on, and with the love of family, friends, and support from a specialist, I am recovering well.

I have had no panic attacks and the pressure in my head has abated, although it will take time to fully heal. I love my job as MP for Bay of Plenty and am really enjoying being back out connecting with the people I seek to serve.

I have been inundated with goodwill, humbled by random people congratulating me on my courage and in some cases asking for advice.

The recognition is not due, for while at the end I did walk away, I could. The greater courage is in those who deal with it even when it is harder to walk away.

In terms of advice, the only piece I will ever proffer is to share the pain.

Sharing personal experience like this helps remove the stigma that too often surrounds mental health issues and prevents people from seeking help.

Being open like this will help others who are dealing with similar problems and help those who aren’t, understand better those who are.

You can learn more about Mental Health Awareness Week here.

 


Rural round-up

22/09/2020

Water and labeling high on hort sector’s election wish-list – David Anderson:

New Zealand’s horticulture industry has set out its wishes for the upcoming election campaign, covering water, climate change, country of origin labelling and labour issues.

Industry body Hort NZ is asking that any future government ensures the horticulture sector can develop “within a supportive framework that enables sustainable growth”.

It says the sector currently contributes more than $6 billion to NZ’s economy, is the country’s third largest export industry and employs approximately 60,000 people.

“What horticulture needs in order to continue its success in producing fresh and healthy food for New Zealand and export markets is quite simple.” . . 

Rural environment grows ideas just fine – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Two years ago when he was playing for the Southland Sharks, Clinton man Lydon Aoake struggled to stay motivated.

The now 30-year-old was in the team that took out the 2018 New Zealand Basketball League. That year he juggled training, a full-time job at Danone Nutricia, and fatherhood.

“When I was working out trying to get fit for the Sharks, I wanted to get a personal trainer, but Clinton was pretty rural,” Mr Aoake said.

“So I had a little bit of a fitness background, I knew what I needed to do — it was just the PT motivation that I wanted.” . . 

Fonterra’s dividend – my five cents – Elbow Deep:

It has been quite the year for Fonterra, the co-operative not only won unanimous parliamentary support for the changes they sought to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, they also returned to profit after last year’s first ever financial loss. That profit, a stunning $1.3 billion turnaround from the previous season, saw Fonterra pay suppliers their fourth highest payout in the Co-op’s history; $7.14 per kg of milksolids and a 5c dividend on shares.

As dairy farmers we have been pretty well insulated from the worst financial effects of the pandemic, it has been business as usual thanks largely to Fonterra’s ability to navigate the strict requirements of operating under various levels of lockdown and to quickly react to changes in demand caused by Covid-19.

It struck me as curiously ungrateful, then, that the first response I saw on social media to Fonterra’s excellent result was a complaint the dividend was too low. This, it turns out, was not an isolated expression of that sentiment. . . 

Fonterra stabilises finances with back to basics model, selling assets and retaining profits – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has stabilised its finances with more asset sales forthcoming. It now operates a conservative model supported by its farmer members. But the model will not create the ‘national champion’ that the Labour Government has always hoped for

Fonterra’s annual results announced in 18 September for the year ending 31 July 2020 indicate that Fonterra has made good progress in stabilising its financial position. A key outcome is a reduction in interest-bearing debt by $1.1 billion, now down to $ 4.7 billion. This has been brought about through asset sales and retained profits.

Chief Financial Officer Marc Rivers told a media conference immediately after release of the results that further debt reductions were desired.  The key measure that Fonterra is now using for debt is the multiple of debt to EBITDA, which now stands at 3.4. The desired level in the newly conservative Fonterra is between 2.5 and 3. . . 

Self-shedding sheep study:

Massey University is examining the economic impact and the production consequences of crossbreeding with Wiltshire sheep to a fully shedding flock.

Coarse wool sheep farmers are struggling with the cost of shearing in relation to the value of the wool clip. Many are considering if changing to a self-shedding flock, such as a Wiltshire, is a better way forward.

However, the cost of purchasing purebred Wiltshires – and the limited numbers available – means this is not a viable option for many. However, there are examples of farmers successfully grading up to Wiltshires by continual crossing.

But there is a general lack of accurate recorded information on the costs, benefit and pitfalls from doing so. . . 

Plug pulled on 2021 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival – Tracy Neal:

Organisers of next February’s Marlborough Wine & Food Festival have pulled the plug early.

It is the first time in the event’s 36-year history it has been cancelled, but the potential lingering challenges over Covid-19 posed too much risk.

Marlborough Winegrowers Board Chair Tom Trolove said it had been a really tough decision that would impact businesses in our community.

“But the board was clear that in these unprecedented times, it had to prioritise the safety of the harvest. . . 


Rural round-up

13/10/2018

Grabbing life by the horns:

October 8th- 14th marks Mental Health Awareness Week. Co-op farmer Wayne Langford knows what it’s like to suffer from mental illness. He’s the man behind the YOLO (You Only Live Once) farmer blog. He shares his story about owning up to his illness and how the YOLO project helped him cope with depression.

I was pretty down in the dumps – I referred to it as a rough patch, my wife called it what it really was – depression. We were lying in bed one morning and she said, “well, what are we going to do? Because we can’t go on like this.”

Most people who knew Wayne Langford knew this about him. He was 34, married to his wife Tyler and the father of three boys. He was a 6th generation dairy farmer who owned and ran his Golden Bay farm. He was a proud Fonterra supplier and was the Federated Farmers Dairy Vice Chairman. . .

Farm produce holds up trade deal:

New Zealand trade negotiators are trying to get their European counterparts to recognise Kiwi agricultural exports are small-fry in comparison to the regional bloc’s farming sector.

The second round of free-trade negotiations between NZ and the European Union is under way in Wellington with 31 European officials in the capital to discuss a deal politicians say they’re keen to fast-track. . . 

Kaitiakitanga and technology benefiting farmers, environment:

An innovative approach to monitoring farm effluent runoff is reaping financial rewards for farmers with bonuses for farming excellence.

Miraka, a Taupo-based milk processor with more than 100 suppliers, is offering bonuses to farmers who meet the five criteria set out in its Te Ara Miraka Farming Excellence programme – people, the environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity
. . .

Farmers build rapport amid Mycoplasma bovis heartache – Tracy Neal:

Despite the fact they are not out of the woods yet, cattle farmers are starting to consider life after Mycoplasma bovis.

Finding that pathway will be helped by a special Beyond Bovis seminar in Hamilton later this month – held in conjunction with the Waikato A&P Show.

The government is working to eradicate M bovis and so far more than 43,000 cows have been culled. . .

High country station to host agricultural workshops – Yvonne O’Hara:

There is a shortage of young people wishing to work in the agriculture sectors, and industry consultant John Bates, of Alexandra, is developing a programme to help address the problem.

Lincoln University owns Mt Grand, a 2127ha high country station near Lake Hawea.

Profits from the farm help fund postgraduate and graduate scholarships.

It is also a teaching facility for university students studying environmental and ecological degrees. . . 

 

PGG Wrightson expects FY19 operating earnings to match prior year’s record – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson expects full-year operating earnings to be on par with last year’s record, including earnings from the seed and grain business that it is selling to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds.

The company said it expects its operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to June 30, will be approximately $70 million. In August, it said its operating ebitda was a record $70.2 million in the year ended June. . . 

Virgin beefing up for transtasman battle

Weeks out from its breakup with Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia says it ready to roll out its “full armoury” in what is shaping up as a three-way battle over the Tasman.

The Australian airline is also trying to establish more of a market presence here after being quiet for much of the alliance with Air New Zealand that stretched more than six years but will end on October 28 after the Kiwi carrier opted to quit the partnership.

Virgin has since upped its marketing and following a search for a New Zealand beef supplier the airline today announced Hinterland Foods from Moawhango in the Rangitikei District had won the “Got Beef” campaign and would supply its meat to the airline for in-flight meals. . . 


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