Opinion: Help is here for Nelson farmers - please ask for it

By Federated Farmers Nelson provincial support Jan Gillanders

OPINION: I have been on my feet for over a week dealing with the impacts of the fire wreaking havoc in the Tasman area.

The true extent of the damage the fire will cause will not be known for months. As I write this the fire is ongoing, firefighters are still battling to suppress hot spots and flare ups in areas where flames have been extinguished, and residents are dealing with the frustration of not being able to get to their homes except for small windows of time when cordons are lifted.

The fire will have devastating, long-lasting effects for the community I love.

It has taken homes, stock and job security. It is about a year since Cyclone Gita smashed the Nelson area. My community has endured and survived disaster, clearly, but each time we take away learnings. I want everyone to ask for help when they need it.

I want each farmer out there impacted by this horrendous fire to assess their feed situation and make sure they ask for help when they need it. I want them to ask now rather than later.

The fire has stretched past 10 days - hardly a usual event - so if you didn't hazard plan for a 10-day fire please check your feed levels and contact the Federated Framers 0800 327 646 Feedline service if you need assistance. The organsiation wants to help. 

When Federated Farmers isn't working on policy and advocating on the rural communities' behalf, it does organise back-up feed for farmers impacted by adverse events.

I work as a nurse as my day job, so I know what happens to people who don't ask for help when they need it. You are no use to anyone if you are dead on your feet. 

Please ask for help if you need it. If your friends and neighbours are telling you that you need help, please listen to them. It's time to put yourself first, rather than thinking you are troublesome or not deserving.

Farmers must not let their pride and humble outlook prevent them from asking for help - and that also means staying on top of their mental health, as well as food supplies for animals.

If you need help now, ask. Don't leave it until next week when a drought or other adverse event could take hold and resources become more constricted.

Jan Gillanders is Federated Farmers Nelson provincial support.