9 Nov 2015

Woman's passion for health and safety leads to award

2:24 pm on 9 November 2015

A passion for improving health and safety on New Zealand farms, and in particular the health of those working in the industry, has contributed to a West Coast farmer being named the winner of the rural category of the Women of Influence Award.

Federated Farmers' health and safety spokesperson Katie Milne.

Katie Milne says the toll is high when a farmer starts to slip into depression Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Katie Milne, a dairy farmer from Rotomanu, is also a member of the Federated Farmers Board, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Board, TB-Free West Coast and numerous other groups, including being a volunteer firefighter.

Ms Milne works closely with the Rural Health Alliance and travels the country talking to farmers about health and safety.

She said some farmers were not coping due to low or dropping returns, but help was available.

"Not all farmers are depressed and the other part of it that we're not really keen on talking about, the suicidal stuff, not everyone is in that space at all. We're just trying to make sure there's good networks and good resources out in rural New Zealand to pick up on those people who do get down because it's not a great place to be obviously.

"The human toll and the toll on animals and farms is pretty high when a farmer starts to slip into depression. We're trying to make people better at how to pick it, so they can get the right help."

Ms Milne said farmers often waited too long to ask for help.