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old man emu

Is the farmering work style a breeding ground for the Black Dog?

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It's heartbreaking to read the statistics of male suicide amongst the farming community, and to see the causes attributed to it: drought, commodity prices, insurmountable debt, and loss of the assets developed over generations. However, I wonder how much the way in which the farming lifestyle escalate the stress of these causes.

 

We city dwellers have a work style that involves almost constant social interaction, either with co-workers or clients (customers), and a multitude of visual and aural distractions. There's barely a moment during the day when we are alone with ourselves. Compare that to the farmer. There are few jobs on a farm that require people to come together to complete them. In general, you could classify these group tasks under the heading "Harvesting", be it gathering in the plant produce, or shearing the wool. For the rest of the year, most farmers are working on their own for hours and days. A couple of hundred acres of land isn't ploughed and sown in a day. There's days and days of sitting on a tractor with your thoughts. If your thoughts are dominated by worry, then they soon overwhelm.

 

What social interaction does the farmer have? There was a time when a farmer could go to the pub in the village (blink'n'missit settlement) to mix with neighbours and have a beer or three. But now fear of being a tad over the limit and subsequent loss of the essential driver's licence has killed that. Although there's love of family, the family is in the same boat when it comes to suffering from the causes. Sure there's times when you go into town for shopping and business, but there's no time for socialising on those days.

 

Would things like Men's Sheds help? Great idea as they are, they have their drawbacks. Remember that farming communities are pretty static in their composition. The bloke you might make a blanket box with is also the bloke you had your first smoke behind the bike shed with. Pride and a desire to appear stoic will prevent a stressed farmer from opening up about his thoughts.

 

What about sport? If you are worried about your diminishing income from your work on the farm, how can you justify the cost of fuel, fees and such that you need to outlay when you travel away from the farm?

 

So, it's not unexpected for a person in these circumstances to be breeding the Black Dog.

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Very true OME. Farming is a 7 day a week job, dawn till dusk or longer. No 9 to 5, 5 days a week arrangement with time for respite, relaxation.

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Mate of mine is a grazier. We've known each other for 40 years and spent many holidays, our wives and growing kids together. The last 15 years have seen kids leave home and divorce. I travel to see him once a month 1000km round trip as much for my sanity as his and we talk every other day on the phone. when we talk we are more like women, we talk about everything. He is not doing too bad although the drought is making things tough.

I think this helps although you hear people who are close say, when the dog bites, that they didn't see any signs.

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That's the trouble with the Dog. The bites are on the inside.

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I once posted on here about doing a Hay run. I felt like I was shot down (Because so many people said the farmers bring it on themselves).

I have since done 5 Hayruns.

OME your post is why I do them.

My father was a farmer, he was forced off the land in the 70's due to drought.

My Father and Mother both committed Suicide.

If I can stop 1 child from feeling how I did that day when my Brother rang me, then I will do hay runs till I die.

It is not about Hay, it is about trying to let people out there know that someone understands and they care.

The detractors will not stop me from doing them, but they do stop me from talking about it, which sadly makes it harder to raise funds so that we can do more.

At the end of the day it is the people out there that matter, Men, Women and Children.

We should all adopt a farmer. Even if it is just a phone call every now an then.

I try to keep in touch with all my farmers. :)

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That's the trouble with the Dog. The bites are on the inside.

So true, OME. It's human nature to help an injured person, but too many people carry their injuries inside, out of sight. The following picture is of a bloke who suffered no more damage than I did; the only difference was his injuries were visible, so he got support.

image.thumb.jpeg.2680b74d29918d22445f60698d1fdd79.jpeg

 

Mine weren't, so I didn't.

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...What social interaction does the farmer have? There was a time when a farmer could go to the pub in the village (blink'n'missit settlement) to mix with neighbours and have a beer or three. But now fear of being a tad over the limit and subsequent loss of the essential driver's licence has killed that...

 

Thank you for such a thoughtful post, OME. As a son of the land, I've seen the long days and weeks of lonely work first hand; it breeds resilient people (women as well as men) but the cost is high.

Because it's Saturday night, there is likely to be a ute or two parked at the end of our lane. After the pubs close a mate will deliver the driver, evading the RBT, whose location is so predictable.

40 years of attending road accidents tells me they shouldn't do it, but perhaps, as you say, we should give them a chance to combat the Black Dog.

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Social interaction comes last to all the essentials. and pressures of running the Farm 24/7. You work sunup to dark then in the sheds doing maintenance and later bookwork.. The only people who KNOW they are going to get PAID are the itinerant workers the banks and the chemical makers. The farmer has to battle the weather the market and often has payments to him only paid on the drip feed and subject to the purchaser remaining solvent. You can do everything right and a single weather event make your whole year a loss . You can have a bumper cop and if everyone else does also the price is so low you don't harvest or pick it and dump it. Farmers are the BIGGEST gamblers in the Country. Nev

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One of the big problems is that primary producers cannot set the price. The big buying cartels set the price and they can get their way because if farmers refuse to sell at low prices, they get nothing. Their product in a lot of cases has a shelf life of days, so it has to be moved quickly.

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Social interaction comes last to all the essentials, and pressures of running the Farm 24/7. Nev

 

I'm saying that no man person can stay mentally healthy if there is no social interaction with people other than family members. If you, dear reader, work a non-agricultural job, then you don't spend your day in isolation. There are always chances to be distracted in a good way from your innermost thoughts and worries, be it at your workplace, travelling to or from it, or detouring to pick up some bread and milk on the way home.

 

This is not possible for the farmer whose workplace is isolated. You might be able to see a neighbour in the distance doing similar tractor work, but you can't enjoy those passing chats that most others can because there are people around them. This is what lets the worries of surviving in the rural sector gestate until they whelp as the Black Dog. The mental health of farmers can only be improved by ensuring farmers gather regularly in recreational situations, be they at the local pub, in a club in town, or at a sporting event. While Misery loves a companion, there are many examples of people enduring the worst of conditions simply by being in a group whose members support each other. Take the example of Prisoners of the Japanese during WWII, many survived because their mates survived with them. Contrast that to the victims of shell-shock in WWI who broke down because their leaders failed to recognise the need to relieve the stress by pulling the troops out of the lines to recover.

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You are flat out getting things done , without going to the pub where people just talk BS anyhow. That's where your workers are pi$$!ng against the wall what you just paid them . .Nev

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One of the big problems is that primary producers cannot set the price. The big buying cartels set the price and they can get their way because if farmers refuse to sell at low prices, they get nothing. Their product in a lot of cases has a shelf life of days, so it has to be moved quickly.

So true, Yenn. Australia (the stupid country) allowed farmers to be conned into selling the Co-ops that processed and marketed their produce. Now, many rural industries are controlled by foreigners with no loyalty or ethics.

There are plenty of stories of how they've shafted our farmers.

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A Farmer/Grazier pays retail for everything that comes in the gate and gets wholesale for what goes out the gate and pays freight both ways.

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The Woolies drought relief 10 cents/litre on milk is a con. In 2017/18 there were 626 registered dairies in NSW. While in Wollies recently I heard an in-store announcement that the extra 10 cents was going to 400 dairy farms. Obviously, the extra money is only going to those dairies that have accepted the strict wholesale price of the Dairy Farmers. The other 226 farmers sell the same quality of milk (since the quality standard is legislated for), but have chosen to sell to other distributors at more equitable prices.

 

Australian milk prices are based on the milk fat and protein content of the milk produced on farm, with different prices for each component. Unlike many countries around the world, there is no legislative control over the price milk processing companies pay farmers for their milk. Since deregulation in 2000/2001 all prices within the industry are set by market forces. Farmgate milk prices will vary between processors. In 2017/18 the farmgate price of milk was 50.5 cents/litre.

 

On 15 January 1900, the Dairy Farmers Co-operative Milk Co. Limited was created by 65 stakeholders, most being dairy farmers in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. The aim of the co-operative was to market their milk and butter products effectively to city customers. Dairy Farmers was 100% Australian owned by Australian dairy farmers for 107 years, and ultimately had 11 processing facilities. In 2008, Dairy Farmers was acquired by Kirin Holdings (Australia) Pty Ltd, part of the Kirin Group of Japan, and became a 'brand' of National Foods, ending 108 years as a co-operative company.

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A very big con !.

Retail at $1.10,: buy in bulk at $0.85 a litre. (in Sydney)

( if you can afford their membership charge)

spacesailor

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Selling it at a price of $1 fosters the concept that the value is less than water. Nev

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The 10 cents a litre levy was only ever a marketing ploy to get the customers that don't buy their cheap milk on board further damaging the fragile dairy industry.

We buy Maleny Milk produced in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland from Coles. $4.55 for 2 Litres (cheaper than a cup of coffee) and just like it came in the bottle 50 years ago.

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I think that the brand of milk you buy is dependent on the taste. The cheap milk is still a healthy product. It is just that the bottlers try to keep the composition as close the legislated minima as they can, so they can use the excess levels of milk solids in other products. They have to do some jiggling to deal with seasonal effects on composition. Those bottlers who aren't so involved in the harvesting of milk solids for other dairy products can sell richer milk and put a premium price on it.

 

The premium milk tastes creamier simply because it contains more cream that the cheap milk. Even cheap milk from Aldi has a recognizably different taste to Coles' and Woolies' cheap milk. If you guzzle cold milk like I do in summer, economics dictates that I buy cheap milk.

 

The question to be answered is: If the farmgate price for milk straight from the cow is 50 cents per litre, where are the additional costs that take the price up to $1 in the shop?

 

Also, I'd like to see the account books that showed that the extra 10 cents was ALL going back to the farm.

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"The cheap milk is still a healthy product."

The "high-temperature-treated" milk carton (skim or light" ) taste's like oversea's powdered milk, & water, almost feel the gritty powder when drinking it.

spacesailor

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years ago, the well-off people around town were the bigger and better farmers. These days, it is the government employees, like the council bosses. They are the ones driving expensive cars.

The way they take money from farmers is with menaces. For example, the rates on a farm are now about $6000 pa, and if you refuse to pay, in time you will be visited by men with guns.

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It would be great if they could stop providing services and so get the non-paying farmers to be punished. Alas, the services provided are nowhere near the rates charged. So back to plan A which is to send men with guns.

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years ago, the well-off people around town were the bigger and better farmers. These days, it is the government employees, like the council bosses. They are the ones driving expensive cars.

The way they take money from farmers is with menaces. For example, the rates on a farm are now about $6000 pa, and if you refuse to pay, in time you will be visited by men with guns.

But wait, there's more.

 

Even before the drought, many smaller communities average much lower incomes, yet they effectively subsidise larger, more prosperous towns and cities nearby.

 

State government rules do not allow selection panels to ask candidates for local government positions whether they will live in the community that pays their salaries. So often these people commute from larger, more desirable places, effectively taking millions of dollars out of smaller communities and spending it in larger ones.

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One reason for the decline of aviation is that farmers can no longer afford 172s.

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State government rules huh. And here I was thinking the council were plain stupid appointing bosses who lived in Melbourne and who drove 450k to work, staying in town a few nights before heading back for Mebourne on friday.

Apparently it is also some external rules which dictate that the council ceo gets an obscene salary. Paid for, not by the state government but by the locals.

I still think the locals are mugs for being docile in accepting these imposts. There must be sneaky ways to fight back.

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The CEO's pay is linked to council's rate income and it's hard to get rid of crook ones. They have too much say on policy.. Our elected reps with all their faults are at least elected and can be unelected. Nev

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