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The Country's Rural Wellness Week - Neil Bateup
Katrina Thomas
/ Categories: National, Flooding, Drought, COVID-19

The Country's Rural Wellness Week - Neil Bateup

Host of The Country, Jamie Mackay catches up with RST National Council Chair Neil Bateup

Photo credit: Stuff.co.nz

Farmers have a lot on their plate this year and that's before COVID-19 is brought into the mix, chair of the National Council of the Rural Support Trust Neil Bateup says.

Adverse weather conditions all over New Zealand were already a huge challenge, Bateup told The Country's Jamie Mackay.

Southland was struggling with drought and there had been flooding in Gisborne, Canterbury, Marlborough, the West Coast, Taranaki and Marokopa, Bateup said.

"There's been heaps happening - and on top of that's there's been COVID."

While floods were traumatic to deal with, the stress of coping with drought could sometimes creep up in a more subtle way, Bateup said.

He'd had a lot of experience with drought on his North Waikato dairy farm and things were still "fairly tight" with no rain for a couple of weeks.

"Droughts … are insidious, they just come in and slowly grow … and it takes a decent dump of rain [to stop them]."

Coping with drought could also put a lot of strain on farmers' mental health, Bateup said.
Excess stock and a lack of feed exacerbated the problem.

Luckily for Bateup, on his farm, he'd made a lot of supplement feed in the spring but he feared some farmers wouldn't be as fortunate.

"It's almost a perfect storm type scenario this year and I feel for the Southland people who haven't got access to feed at reasonable prices - and they're getting closer to winter."

However, there was one positive aspect to a drought that ran later, Bateup said.

"The later they go you get scared that [grass] is not going to grow when it rains but when it does rain – growth is often phenomenal."

He also had a bit of advice for anyone doing it tough – find your "happy place".

Bateup was already looking forward to spending the afternoon in his own happy place.

"There's nothing better than sitting out in the boat with a line over the side, whether I'm catching fish or not - it's just being out there. I can shut the world off and that's my happy place.

"Everybody needs to find a happy place."

To listen to the intgerview click here

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