Farmers in Northland are being urged to check on their neighbours as winter and financial stress tighten their grip in the dairy sector.
Federated Farmers president John Blackwell said there had been good turnouts at regular dinners organised to bring stressed farmers and their families together.
But he said those most in need of support may not be asking for it.
Mr Blackwell said depression could set in once a farmer was in a downward spiral with debt and low income, and a friendly phone call or visit could make a big difference.
He said some Whangarei farmers were facing the added burden of large rate increases this winter, based on new valuations that may now be unrealistic, given the dairy downturn.
Whangarei District Council is expected next week to approve a rates rise of 3.9 percent, but Mr Blackwell said the average concealed rates increases as high as 21 percent for some dairy farmers, who he said could least afford them.
He said such increases had not been seen in other Northland districts, and it seemed grossly unfair to inflict them on the most vulnerable sector of the farming community.
The council said the average rate rise across the rural community would be 3.9 percent, but there would be variations, caused by valuations done last year. It said some farmers would see their rates decrease.
Where to get help:
If it is an emergency, and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
Lifeline - 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906
Youthline 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Healthline - 0800 611 116