Thursday, February 16, 2023

Heather du Plessis-Allan: The cyclone will be weighing on farmers’ minds

It is a hard time to be a farmer in the North Island, this week especially. 

Yes, the cyclone has affected a lot of people, not just farmers, in some cases devastatingly. But the farming community have got to be among the worst affected.

I really don’t mean to minimise this cyclone for anyone else, but farmers are isolated. 

They will probably be the last to have their power reconnected, the last to have their bridges fixed to get the milk tankers in; they’ll be the last ones in to the supermarket in town. And they’ll be the last ones to have someone turn up at the door and ask if they’re ok.

And when most others affected have replaced the roof and dried the carpet, farmers will still be shifting forestry debris off their land, they will still  be counting the loss of dumped milk, spoiled kumara, damaged avos, wiped out maize crops, and lost apples for months, if not years.

I can’t imagine how hard this must be for them, after everything they’ve been through.

In case you’ve forgotten, they had Covid shutting the borders and keeping workers out.

To this day, they’ve watched unharvested veges rotting in the soil, fruit rotting on the trees, the winter grazing regulation dreamed up in Wellington, the ute tax, the climate emissions levy, and now the planned RMA reform coming at them.

The forestry conversions are threatening communities, they’ve had the flooding in Gisborne just over a year ago, the frosts on central North Island farms last winter, and the flooding on Franklin District farms last week.

It has been a lot for farmers.

And I can only imagine that there will be some out there who will wondering just how much more of this they can take.

We rely on these guys. 

We don’t think of that a lot, but they bring tens of billions of dollars into this country to help pay for our kids’ education and our parents’ healthcare. 

Spare a thought for them, because they’ll be the last ones to make a fuss.

And when this cyclone doesn’t even feature any more in the news cycle, the effects of it will still be weighing on farmers’ minds. 

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.

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