Hard-hit farmers leave woes behind

Farmers from all over the North Island soaked up the goodwill of sponsors and put their farming woes on the back burner during yesterday's Drought Shout at Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka.

Buses brought about 2000 farmers from as far a field as Napier, Taihape, Wanganui and South Wairarapa to the brewery for a fun day off the farm that included a helicopter beer drop, topdressing aeroplane display, stock-whip cracking competition, mechanical bull-riding competition, giveaways, barbecues and of course free cold Tui.

Chris Dooney, who farms a 300ha sheep farm near Waipukurau, said even though has seen his fair share of droughts during his farming career, this summer has undoubtedly been one of the toughest in years. As a result, Mr Dooney has taken a "proactive" approach in reducing stock numbers and keeping feed demand down to a manageable level.

"Most farmers are doing it hard and we've learned lessons from past droughts and have had to be very proactive in preparing for the winter," he said.

Mr Dooney, who attended the last Drought Shout at Tui Brewery in 2008, said yesterday's event is a morale booster for drought affected farmers.

"It's just fantastic. It's a great opportunity to get off the farm for a few hours and chat to other farmers in similar positions and gain another perspective from them. I'm also really appreciative of all the businesses that have supported today. It makes you feel like you're all in this together."

PGG Wrightson Regional Manager Duncan Fletcher, one of the Drought Shout's organisers, said he was overwhelmed with the turnout and the support he has received from local, regional and national businesses.

"The amazing thing about today is that businesses came to us wanting to contribute to the Drought Shout in some way and that's been really encouraging."

Yesterday's Drought Shout was the brain child of business leaders from Tui Brewery, PGG Wrightsons and Baker & Associates and follows the successful Drought Shout held at Tui Brewery in 2008, which attracted a crowd of 2000 thirsty farmers.

Local, regional and national businesses collectively donated more than $78,000 to the Drought Shout while an additional $34,000 worth of in-kind support was given. This included a truck of silage, a water tank, $1500 worth of slug bait for crops, a Stihl Chainsaw, a cricket bat signed by the Black Caps, a Pure Pleasure Package escape at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park in Masterton and Mars Bars.

All supporting companies that took part are named on the www.bakerag.co.nz website while any money left over will be donated to the Federated Farmer's Drought Relief Fund.

Organisers of yesterday's Drought Shout would like to thank the gold and silver sponsors who made the shout possible.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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