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Dry Spell Officially Declared a Drought

[11am, 18 March - Further to our media release on the drought declaration in Taranaki, we are advised that the freephone number for the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, 0800 757 3423, will not be operating for another 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Trust can be contacted through Taranaki Federated Farmers on 06 757 3423.]

Taranaki Regional Council media release

18 March 2008

For immediate release

DRY SPELL OFFICIALLY DECLARED A DROUGHT

The Taranaki Regional Council today declared a drought as farmers struggle to deal with the prolonged dry spell the region has been experiencing since early November.

The Taranaki Regional Council Chairman, David MacLeod, says drought conditions exist in the area of Coastal Taranaki extending south from Okato, through all of South Taranaki District to the region’s southern boundary, and including southern and eastern parts of the Stratford District.

The South Taranaki District Mayor, Ross Dunlop, says with no rain predicted before May, the declaration is designed to open up new avenues of Government assistance for farmers. “Those who are struggling should seek help now.”

Mr MacLeod says other parts of the region are also experiencing dry conditions but the Taranaki Regional Council believes the area covered by the declaration is where conditions are critical.

“The Council is formally asking the Government, and in particular Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton, to provide all reasonable assistance to farmers suffering undue stress as a result of this extreme situation.

“MAF is offering financial and welfare assistance to affected farmers through the region’s Rural Support Trust. And I understand that Government will provide funding through the Trust for an Agricultural Recovery Co-ordinator.”

To contact the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, call 0800 757 3423 or 06 757 3423.

Mr MacLeod acknowledges the hardship that many farmers are currently experiencing and, with the support of the South Taranaki District Mayor, Ross Dunlop, wants to reassure them that the Taranaki community will endeavour to support them during this difficult period.

Tax concessions and welfare assistance are among Government drought relief measures.

The Ministry of Social Development Regional Commissioner for Taranaki, Gloria Campbell says Work and Income has been working with the Rural Support Trust to assess needs and monitor the situation.

Financial assistance can include Unemployment Benefit, Emergency Benefit, Special Needs Grants and Recoverable Assistance Payments. Mrs Campbell says Rural Assistance Payments may also be available to farmers who are in financial hardship in a drought declared area.

Anyone affected by the drought who needs some sort of financial support or emergency assistance should call the Government helpline, 0800 779 997.

ENDS

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