Farming, locally and nationwide, is facing huge challenges.

Here in Northland we face the horrible fact that the big killer of farmers is melanoma. I cannot stress enough the importance of prevention. If you are worried, go and talk with a specialist, and maybe look at making a regular mole map a process you need to take part in.

Farming has had some tough times financially. Crossbred wool continues to tread water, but the Minister for Rural Communities Damien O'Connor, has put his weight behind the national working wool group.

I hope the consortium will come up with ideas farmers can agree to get behind.

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There is a hurricane coming in the form of climate change, and the legislation that will be used to adapt for it, as well as the deluge coming in water issues.

Labour for farming is an ongoing concern. We do have an aging workforce. We do have a problem in finding suitably qualified staff who are enthusiastic about the workplace, but we do have a lot of intervention from a number of sources, including industry groups, and ongoing discussions in the agriculture education space.

All these issues add up to an uncomfortable truth — that some in farming may look to get out of it. An exit is sometimes the easiest course of action.

As a province and an organisation we have moved, or are in the process of moving, to meet these challenges. With the aging workforce, maybe assisting with succession planning, if it is an option.

We can assist the likes of the Whangarei A&P Society to provide cadetships and training that will extend the life of an aging workforce, or invite people fresh out of high school.
Equity partnerships will also extend the life of an aging workforce. Better payouts will alleviate some of the financial issues farmers and their families find themselves in.

Stronger leadership from our industry council groups can mediate some of the intervention issues.

We need to harness the efforts and brain power of the Dr Jock Allisons and Keith Woodfords of this world to get some individuals in Wellington and Auckland to understand the real issues and the impact of central government policies on wider New Zealand.