PGP delivering much needed support to rural communities

  • Nathan Guy
Primary Industries

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says a further 400 rural professionals will be trained in 20 workshops delivered over the next month to support farming families and rural communities.

“These workshops are about creating a culture of mental health awareness and training within service organisations, a key outcome from ‘Transforming the Dairy Value Chain’, a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ and Fonterra.

“This adds to the more than 400 rural professionals already trained in mental health awareness by the programme.

“While the economic benefits of PGP are well known as the Government’s flagship research and development programme for the primary sector, it’s great to see it is also supporting the wellbeing of dairy farmers in what is a difficult year for some.

“Rural professionals are dealing with multiple farmers every day.  By reaching them, we are extending the reach of the mental health initiatives to a wider group of people in the rural community.”

A range of other organisations have been involved with developing and delivering the wellness initiatives as part of Transforming the Dairy Value Chain, including the New Zealand Institute for Rural Health, the Dairy Women’s Network, Federated Farmers, universities and AgResearch.

In addition to working with rural professionals, the programme has also delivered Health PitStops to more than 3,500 farmers across the country.

“The Health PitStops raise awareness of wellbeing amongst farmers, and highlight concern about the high levels of stress, fatigue, burnout and cardiovascular risk in the farming workforce.

“Another key initiative is the Farmer Wellbeing Stakeholder Group, facilitated by Federated Farmers.  This group has lifted the profile of mental health and made it easier to talk about mental health issues and share knowledge, experience and stories.”

Transforming the Dairy Value Chain has invested around $2.1 million in farmer wellbeing initiatives over the last five years, and the programme is investing a further $950,000 over the next two years.

This funding is complementary to the one-off $500,000 funding boost package for rural mental health initiatives by MPI and the Ministry of Health, announced in June.

“Supporting our rural community to recognise and respond to mental health issues is vital. We need people to know they are not alone, and there is help available.”