Home' Otago Southland Farmer : April 19th 2013 Contents 19.4.13 Farmer
Helping hand: Gavin
Booth has started up the
Guy killing sparks farm mediation service
By TERRI RUSSELL
When the Scott Guy murder trial unfolded,
Invercargill social worker Gavin Booth felt he had
to do something to help farming families work
through their problems.
Ewen Macdonald was found not guilty of killing
his brother-in-law, 31-year-old Guy in 2010 outside
his Feilding property, over tensions about the
future of the family farm.
Farm progression and succession planning was a
common trigger of stress and anxiety among
farmers, particularly in the face of land-use
change towards dairying, Mr Booth said.
''That's huge. And it can break up families. It
started me thinking I have to do something,'' he
Farmers are not only faced with changing land
use but higher debt ratios, a drop in lamb prices,
more complex farming systems and weather-
More skills and expertise were needed to run a
farm and employee relations were also a cause of
stress as farms grew to take on more workers, Mr
''These are real issues. There's more pressure on
farming families now than farmers in the past
The number of farmer suicides has risen, the
farming community is isolated and farmers do not
have the same support as those in town.
Isolation was a ''blockage'' stopping farming
families from moving forward as well as time,
communication, skills and expertise, he said.
Mr Booth was raised on a sheep and beef farm in
the Te Anau basin. He had taught farmers how to
farm goats and later became a social worker.
He has had 10 years social work experience in
Southland, Canterbury and London. His work
with farmers in New Zealand made him realise
that issues in the farming community were rife.
Mr Booth said family mediation was one way to
help families make constructive decisions to move
forward in tough times.
Last week, he launched a new business, I See
More, and its service division, Farming Family
''The beauty is that farmer mediation offers a safe
setting where people can look at a clear pathway
for moving forward.
''You see results through bringing families
together,'' he said.
Today, one of the worst droughts in history is
gripping the nation and contributing to the stress
Southland Federated Farmers president Russell
MacPherson said farmers dealt with the weather
on a day-to-day basis and it was a common cause
The mental wellbeing of farmers had been talked
about recently by the Southland Federation
because of the prolonged dry period, he said.
The rain over recent days was helping but more
was needed, he said.
''Farmers are under pressure in Southland. The
grass hasn't grown and we're heading into winter.
Farmers don't want their stock to go hungry.''
Dairy farmers had a higher payout than expected
but this would be soaked up by the need to buy
winter feed supplies, he said.
''In agriculture, things don't always run smooth.
Even in good times there's pressures. It all takes
''If things get you down, go do something that you
Mr MacPherson said farmers were entitled to free
psychology services via the Southland Rural
There was plenty of support available and farmers
needed to realise that seeking help was not a sign
of weakness, he said.
Event keeps on
Bringing home the bacon: Ashley Finch, 7, from Clutha
Valley, at the Valley Roar Hunting and Fishing
The second Valley Roar Hunting and Fishing
Competition was held last weekend and was again
a big success.
The hunt started at noon on Friday and all catches
had to be weighed by 3pm on Sunday.
About $6000 was raised for the Clutha Valley Fire
Brigade and South Otago Search and Rescue.
Co-organiser Michelle Smollett said it was a
''There was a big variety of catch.
''We got lots of positive feedback. I think it's just
going to get bigger.''
Support had been amazing, she said.
''We were blown away by the support of the
''We can't thank the sponsors enough.''
A full list of results is available at the Greenfield
Tavern in Clydevale.
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