"> Growing regulation causing added stress for dairy farmers - Survey - eDairyNews-EN
A new industry survey has found many dairy farmers are feeling under pressure, despite strong prices.
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Farming and dairy jobs are being advertised below the minimum wage on the website. Photo: 123rf.com

DairyNZ has just released its annual View from the Cowshed report, which was based on the feedback of 425 farmers who opted to be surveyed between April and May this year.

It found 17 percent of farmers were feeling more positive than they were last year, but double that number were feeling less positive.

More than half of those surveyed said they or someone on their farm had experienced a mental health issue in the last year.

The most mentioned reasons were government regulations, perception of dairying within the public and media and financial concerns. Labour shortages on-farm were another issue raised by farmers, with 62 percent saying that being short staffed was causing increased stress.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle, said despite the strong milk price, it was clear there were challenges facing farmers.

“I think 57 percent of farmers surveyed said changing government regulations are causing them a lot of stress. A further 67 percent of farmers feel there isn’t enough support for farmers dealing with mental health issues. So those two things are a concern.”

“They still feel deeply concerned about what they see as ongoing criticism of the way we farm from some commentators, particularly some of the more vocal NGOs, and that stuff really hurts.”

Mackle said it had drawn on the issues raised to develop 10 recommendations for the government.

These included slowing down the speed of regulatory change, addressing the workforce shortage in the dairy sector, and developing a clear R&D strategy to find solutions to the challenges farmers faced.

“Dairy farmers are operating in a complex environment and managing a lot of challenges at the moment,” Mackle said.

The report said over 40 percent of New Zealand’s exports for the 2021/22 year were expected to be from the dairy sector, which directly employed 50,000 people.

Fonterra has developed an innovative process for recycling water removed from milk during the evaporation process at its Maungatūroto site. The water passes through a wetland which acts as a natural bioreactor before it is treated further on site.

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