Drought-affected North Canterbury farmers head to Fieldays thanks to local initiative

Figured are proud to be sponsoring a great initiative to send 100 drought-affected Canterbury sheep and beef farmers to Mystery Creek Fieldays 2016.

Nick Hamilton is the North Canterbury farmer leading the cause – and it’s one that’s all too close to his heart. Hamilton himself has faced a harrowing two years of drought conditions and consequent restricted cashflow on his Omihi farm. Taking necessary drastic action, Hamilton has completely de-stocked his farm and has taken up a second job at a nearby vineyard to help pay for the cost of grazing and to keep his farming operation afloat.

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Strength in unity

Hamilton would be forgiven for simply focusing on making it through his own challenges. But, recognising that he is not the only farmer making tough decisions to support their family, he instead set about organising an event that would bolster morale in his farming community and provide other farmers with a positive experience in these tough times.

“So many of the farmers down here have been doing it tough for two years. I started thinking, ‘well, we can’t buy rain’, so what else can we do to help? We thought it would be cool if we could do something to to help local farmers get off the farm and experience something positive”, he says.

From there, Hamilton approached several businesses with strong connections to the rural community and pitched the idea to them of supporting a sponsored trip to Fieldays. The journey north for the annual event can be a challenge for Canterbury farmers due to the restrictions of cost and distance, and indeed it’s something that Hamilton has never been able to attend himself.

“It seemed like an opportunity that could provide local farmers with at least one positive amongst what’s felt like a lot of negatives. They can get off the farm, head away for a couple of nights, and perhaps come home a little more motivated or inspired”, he explains.

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Supporting our farmers

A Facebook page was created inviting farmers from the region to apply, and they quickly managed to fill the 100 allocated spots. For $200 per person, the group will get return flights from Christchurch to Auckland, transport to Hamilton and passes to Fieldays, a dinner with guest speakers, followed by breakfast and a full day at Fieldays on Friday before they head back for a night in Auckland.

Hamilton says he’s extremely grateful for the positive response he’s received from sponsors. As well as Figured, firms supporting the trip include, BNZ, Xero, Farmlands, Perpetual Guardian, FMG, North Canterbury Federated Farmers and Air New Zealand. “We were really excited to see that firms actually care and that they’re willing to do something to help us out”, says Hamilton.

As a company that is committed to supporting the growth and success of agribusiness in New Zealand, Figured are proud to be contributing to a cause that directly impacts the well-being of members of the farming community at a time when they need it the most. We’re looking forward to welcoming the group and being a part of their experience at Fieldays 2016!

For more information or enquiries, see the Hurunui Community Drought Support Facebook page.