To those who in some way are in the depths of New Zealand's farming world, or part of the sector in some way, and to those who might not read this because they are not farmers — I'm thinking of us all, writes Mischa Clouston.
This Mycoplasma bovis is colossal. It will reach far and affect many of us in some way. In a huge, indescribable way.
I'm scared for my cattle owner friends; it must be such a heavy weight to carry just now, knowing you could lose so much. I'm scared for fellow managers or milkers; if there are no cows, do we even have a job in the dairy and beef industries?
I'm worried for the health sector, helping support the strain and worry. But let's not forget the agribusiness owners whose business is on farms or with product or services for cattle — the small business owners relying on the spending from farmers who may, in time, have little left in their own pots.
How about the teachers who support the kids at school who are dealing with mum and dad's stress, carrying that burden with their little souls?
The shop owners in town who lose custom because no cattle equals no income to spend in shops?. It is far-reaching and it is not just about cattle being put to rest. The tentacles of this run deep across our country — rural and urban.
So my advice to anyone who feels like reading this? Let's look out for each other equally, as one person's strain is no bigger than anyone else's.
At some point soon, we will need to be mindful of reaching out to our neighbour, father, favourite shop owner, frequenting veterinarian, sales rep or truck driver — and so so many more — it's everyone. It will choose you at some point. It's about awareness. You need not necessarily understand Mycoplasma bovis or how it has originated or spread, but it will help if, instead of judging or analysing the variations in decision or opinion out there in the current climate, we create a mindfulness of its impact on a huge array of individuals right across our country. We need to create a well and resilient human community to be able to deal with this.
Be aware. Ask how people are. Listen. Be listened to. Talk often. Hug if you must. But find a way of feeling valued and supported while this is going on. We can't change it now, but hope decisions are made that can reach a common goal with as little impact as possible on the wellbeing of our society.
That really is the big picture.
We are all important. This is big. This is scary. But surely we can help each other through. New Zealand is smaller than we realise, so any one of you from town or country will know someone affected by this. So it's actually up to us all.
- Mischa Clouston is a registered nurse and farmer's wife.