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Managing in Times of Adversity

05 October 2012

NEW ZEALAND - Stress can sneak up on you. Scheduling some time off farm is a good idea, says B+LNZ extension manager Erica van Reenen.

This year Beef + Lamb New Zealand held a series of 'Farming the Wild Weather' workshops throughout the country.

They were designed to help farmers assess the risks of climate change and its impact on their farm systems, and develop strategies to adapt and cope. While there were presentations from NIWA scientists and farm management specialists, a lot of the content involved farmers teaching farmers, as participants shared tales of dealing with adversity.

Farmers face huge challenges all the time. Not just due to climate variability, but because of the nature of farming. It's biological, which is code for "really complicated and unpredictable"! There are stresses caused by people (staff, family, neighbours, regulators...), animals facing illness, markets, exchange rates, weather elsewhere influencing stock trading – the list goes on. It's incredible that, despite all of this, New Zealand farmers produce such high quality products.

At most of the 20-plus workshops, how to deal with stress cropped up when referring to severe weather events, such as the 2008 drought. We often overlook the social impact of dramatic events. But farmers work hard year round, with seasonal peaks like lambing and calving when things get even busier. Stress can sneak up on you.

Scheduling some time off farm is a good idea. Yes, easier said than done. Would you feel happier taking half a day out if it was still "work"? How about attending a B+LNZ field-day? It could be just the ticket to get you off the farm and catching up with neighbours. Hopefully, you'll also pick up some valuable information to take back to your business.

"It's better to make the wrong decision early, than the right decision too late."

TheCattleSite News Desk



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