After experiencing one of the worst droughts New Zealand has ever endured, Waikato farmers Karen and Peter West have finally been able to smile again.
“We had a great winter and spring,” says Peter. “Things are looking more positive. We have surplus grass, the cows have been well fed. We are out of the drought now.”
The couple, who have been dairy farmers in Kaihere for the past 28 years, have faced four droughts, all since 2008. They were forced to lay off farm workers and Karen had to take over the work to help keep costs down.
“It’s something that we’ve had to work through. We just carry on and take whatever life has thrown at us.”
Peter says the international demand for milk has meant the price increased and the bigger payout has alleviated a lot of financial pressures for the Wests.
“Production this season has been pretty good. Everyone has got a smile on their face compared to this time last year.”
Although the situation is looking brighter, Peter knows that their industry is unpredictable.
“We are halfway through the season and we have to be prudent about what we do. As farmers you have ups and downs, and you’ve got to learn to deal with things, otherwise it will screw with your head.”