Dear dairy farmers – we love you

20 September 2019

As Mental Health Week gets underway (September 23-29), DairyNZ would like to share a heart-felt letter received recently.

We also want to acknowledge that while dairy farming can be a challenging and ever-changing job, it’s hugely rewarding too.

Despite the everyday pressures of farming dairy farmers are doing OK and supporting each other through what are tough times for many, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader, Dr Jenny Jago.

“Our farmers are busy ensuring the environment is protected and caring for their people and animals. Many of them are reporting that they feel stress, anxiety, fatigue and even depression from time to time,” she says.

“Statistics for the past year show that almost one in five farmers has contacted someone for help with personal issues. That is a high number, but what’s important is that they recognised their need for support and took action to get it.”

Along with media coverage calling for New Zealanders to get behind farmers, such as Kerre McIvor’s on Newstalk ZB last week and her Herald on Sunday column at the weekend, members of the public are contacting DairyNZ to express their support.

Here’s what Aucklander Mark Ellery had to say in his letter to DairyNZ last week:  

I am just a normal hardworking small business owner in Auckland and I have some real concerns about the rural sector in this country.

I am an architectural designer, an Aucklander and generally a pen (or mouse) pusher.

From me, as your average Kiwi, to everyone of your farmers – I love them, they are the backbone, the guts and the legs that have kept this country going and will for the next millennium.

My apologies at how every farmer is being treated in this country. It is totally disrespectful to a core of our country and I just feel so sick at the stress that is being placed on every man, woman and child in the rural sector.

We are not all like that. In fact, I think most good Kiwis love our rural brothers and sisters and it hurts me to think they are hurting from the stress that is being placed on them.

I had one man’s stress on me.  I can’t imagine having the feeling the Government and the country is against you.

It is not.

We love you all. Please keep going. Please keep being the people you are, the real Kiwis and I promise the next time I am coming past a farm and see one of you out there I will stop and shake your hand and thank you for being you.


Mark and the entire Ellery Family.


For tips and advice for staying well go to or


Worried someone may be anxious or depressed?


Encourage them to speak to their health practitioner.


Encourage them to talk to someone about it – these numbers are good:

  • Rural Support Trust — 0800 787 254
  • Depression Helpline — 0800 111 757


Worried someone is suicidal?


Do everything you can to get a suicidal person the professional help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help them locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.


These are the numbers to call:

  • Samaritans — 0800 726 666
  • Lifeline — 0800 543 354


Media inquiries:

Allanah Jarman

Communications Advisor

Phone 021 240 6614

Lee Cowan

Senior Engagement & Communications Manager

Phone 021 930 836

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