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What measures are in place to help the struggling Kiwi farmer?

Unless you've been living under a considerable-sized rock recently, you won't have failed to notice that the price for dairy products is at a particular low ebb – especially if you're a dairy farmer yourself. Indeed, towards the end of May, Fonterra decreased its forecast payout to just NZ$4.40 per kilogram of milk solid (MS). 

It's a far cry from the heady days of $8.40 MS in the not-too-distant past, and it could be a fair while before things begin to look up in the world of dairy farming. However, while New Zealand's intrepid army of dairy farmers batten down the hatches to weather the downturn in dairy prices, what measure are being put in place to help them through the lean times? Thankfully, several rural organisations are combining their powers to support one of the country's oldest and most noble industries.

Help is at hand for dairy farmers in Taranaki

The North Island region of Taranaki is home to some 16.6 per cent of New Zealand's dairy farms, according to an infographic produced by Livestock Improvement Corporation. That's the second-heaviest concentration of dairy farms in the entirety of the country, and two groups based in the region, Taranaki Rural Support Trust (TRST) and Taranaki Federated Farmers, have developed a support network to help farmers stationed in the area. How does this work?

Well, they've attracted the aid of larger groups such as DairyNZ, Civil Defence, Victim Support and other programmes, including depression programmes to come to the rescue of farmers who are the finding the going too tough. With this range of organisations banding together into a large entity, it is hoped that the arrangement will foster a sense of solidarity among embattled dairy farmers. 

Several rural organisations are combining their powers to support one of the country's oldest and most noble industries.

Dairy farmers unite

TRST chairman Graeme Hight helped piece together the support network, as he is concerned how Taranaki's farmers, and indeed those further afield, will cope should further low payout projections come to fruition. In fact, he wants the New Zealand government to do more to help, such as providing greater funding to such organisations that will give them the means to provide assistance to dairy farmers hit with the double-whammy of two seasons of low prices.   

Taranaki Federated Framers president Bronwyn Muir has an even more practical approach. She'd like to see those living in rural communities speak more freely about the problems dairy farming faces, especially the older generation that have come through tougher times in the past unscathed:

"There's a wealth of information from old farmers who have been through these downturns. If we gather together like we used to, young farmers can talk to their older neighbours about how they managed. Wise words will help us get through this," she said.

How long will it be until dairy farmers can smile at milk prices again?