West Coasters join drought
22 March 2013
West Coasters join drought
Federated Farmers West Coast welcomes medium scale adverse event declarations for Buller and Grey Districts; suffering their driest period in some 41 years. A national summary of the rain that fell earlier this week is included in this release.
“This declaration was very much anticipated and is welcome,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokesperson and West Coast provincial president.
“Somewhat ironically the fifth ‘managing your way though drought’ meeting finished this afternoon in Greymouth. We didn’t wait for the declaration because there was a real need to get advice and guidance out there.
“I also need to nip a nasty myth in the bud. Farmers cannot get cash from the Government unless they are effectively bankrupt. Any suggestion farmers are getting payouts or special treatment is wrong and is frankly insulting.
“Given there are tens of thousands of farms in New Zealand, OneNews reported earlier this week that just two farmers were receiving the dole we know as a RAP.
“There will be more but there won’t be a lot. We have a social welfare safety net for good reasons and sadly some farmers will need access to it.
“Having got that off my chest, dairy farmers should speak to staff at Westland Milk Products, DairyNZ and others who come up your drive. Similarly for sheep and beef farmers, have a yarn with your meat processor or to Beef+Lamb NZ.
“Don’t be shy about picking up the phone and talking to us at Federated Farmers either.
“The issue for dairy farmers is that at this time of the year our farm cover should be 2200 kilograms of dry matter per hectare (kg DM/ha) but the best case we know of is 1600 kg DM/ha and even that is falling daily.
“The reality is that we have basically used up our winter feed in summer and autumn and the cupboard is bare for winter. I have some great photos that show you graphically how we’ve swung from floods to drought.
“Winter is the real concern because our pastures are basically nuked and in desperate need of renewal or undersowing. Within weeks we will likely lose sunshine and get inundated with rain; typical conditions here on the Coast.
“The good news is that in-calf cows are in reasonable nick. To ensure a good start to the new season farmers must continually monitor cow condition and dry off any that are losing weight.
“For the few sheep and beef farmers affected it is a similar story hence why it is vital to talk to your vet about nutritional needs.
“In these stressful times it is also important to look after yourself and if anybody feels they need help or support, please get in touch with the Rural Support Trust, your accountant, bank, rural merchant or farm advisor.
“Burying your head in the sand will not make a problem go away but the onus is on neighbours to watch out for one-another. Don’t just invite someone for a cup of tea take it to them. While a problem shared is a problem halved you might just get a plan out of it.
“If you are looking to buy feed it is available from Canterbury so contact your preferred supplier quickly. You can also check out what feed farmers are selling on the Federation’s website. Alternatively get in contact with Federated Farmers Grain & Seed to see what supplements can be secured now.
“At times like this you need your mates so get together for a BBQ because that reinforces the message that you are not on your own.
“The West Coast Rural Support Trust has proactively got off the ground and is there to help you through events like this with advice and counselling. Call them on 0800 787 254,” Katie Milne concluded.
Federated Farmers advice and links is available by clicking here.
For more information:
Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokesperson, 03 738 0189, 0274 244 546
THE CURRENT STATE OF OUR PROVINCES AFTER RAIN THIS WEEK
For contact details of our provincial presidents please click here.
Provincial President, Matt Long, reports Northland had rainfall 20 -25mm but less in some places. Eastern areas still greenish with potential to bounce back with good rain.
Provincial president Wendy Clark says the Auckland province is very dry. She had 26mm on Sunday but needs 150mm to fill the soil moisture deficit.
The Waikato received between 6-30mm on Sunday says James Houghton, Federated Farmers provincial president. There were some small showers about on Monday but about half of all dairy farms are dry with little supplement available. Baleage is up to $150 each.
Federated Farmers provincial president, John Sanford, says Hauraki Coromandel received 8-10mm. The East Coast is fairing well but the Hauraki Plains is struggling. Big decisions about drying off will need to be made by the end March as supplements deplete. Not many milking herds are dry yet, but many are on either on once a day or 16-hour milking.
Bay of Plenty:
John Scrimgeour, Federated Farmers provincial president says most are coping although there is some uncertainty about the way forward. In terms of recent rainfall, 5-10 mm fell in coastal areas rising to 30mm inland with up to 60-70mm in the Kaimai Ranges.
Rotorua/Taupo provincial president, Neil Heather, is involved in meetings over the next few weeks to help fellow farmers. People are under a lot of stress and feed is very short Rain at his farm was 25mm but talking to people south of Rotorua, it was inconsequential at 4mm, “so no help for them”.
Provincial president, Peter Jex-Blake, reported the dry is really starting to bite; with areas usually ‘summer safe’ now getting very dry. Tough decisions are being made that will have significant impacts on the next two years of income. Water is becoming a real issue.
The Hawke’s Bay generally missed the rain with 11mm falling at the farm of National President, Bruce Wills. This was accompanied by over 30 degree days too.
Harvey Leach, Federated Farmers Provincial president, says New Plymouth received 16mm, Stratford 23mm, Hawera 3.5mm and Cape Egmont 7.5mm.
Lyn Neeson, provincial president of Ruapehu said the rain was patchy. She reported 22mm at her farm with no reports in excess of 30mm, “this will put a bit of water back into the creeks and wash the dust off”. It is looking dire with the first Rural Support meeting held on Tuesday and a lot of individual solutions requiring a lot of work.
It seemed extremely variable at the Woodvile farm of Tararua Dairy Chair, Gray Beagley, after 2mm fell on Sunday to be followed by a whopping 110mm on Monday with Thunderstorms. This deluge coincided with an organic ‘farming in drought’ field day. A further 50mm was reported in other areas including the farm of provincial president, Richard Murfitt. There are reports some farms actually received very little.
Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Provincial president, says it has been very patchy over Manawatu-Rangitikei. No rain came on Sunday with most falling on Monday but Taihape received nothing. Around Palmerston North and Feilding, 30mm fell but up on the terraces, where Mr Hoggard farms, he got 84mm and the hills behind him should have received a similar amount. The worst affected area is northern Rangitikei which received nothing.
Provincial president, Brian Doughty, reports 60mm has fallen over the past couple of days with more being predicted earlier this week. The province’s coastal strip is very dry with the hills taking quite a beating; the small amount of flat land in-between it is also looking quite grey.
Jamie Falloon, Federated Farmers Provincial president, says great rain fell in the Wairarapa/Wellington region. It seems 40mm fell at the coast, 70mm on the flats and 60mm in the hills. The worst affected areas have received good rain
Gary Barnett, Federated Farmers provincial president says a dry autumn is what Marlborough does not need. Some irrigation has been shut down but with 10-25mm of rain, grapes should ripen and the river could come up to minimum flows allowing irrigation to restart.
Federated Farmers provincial president, Gavin O’Donnell says low pasture covers, winter feed reserves and poor winter crops are concerning. In terms of rain, 0-75mm fell over most of the province; the Nelson Lakes area received 100 mm, Murchison 77mm and South of Murchison, 37mm.
Federated Farmers provincial president Graham Ball says Golden Bay is fairing better than other provinces. Rainfall of 50-90mm came on Sunday with showers following earlier this week.
North Canterbury farmers were getting anxious but it seems rainfall of between 30-60mm fell, including 49mm around Darfield and at the farm of provincial President, Neil Stott, “pasture is responding slowly and gives us possible breathing room. There is very little planted in the ground so we have a long way to go. The word “drought” needs to be replaced by the word “winter,” which is just around the corner so farmers need to get their feed supplies together”.
Provincial president Chris Allen says Mid Canterbury has been very dry. Irrigation allocation and reliability is adequate in most cases excepting one scheme. In terms of rain, 35mm fell half way up plains Sunday/Monday. Straw will be a finite resource so farmers will need to be quick to secure it.
Colin Hurst, Federated Farmers South Canterbury Grain & Seed chairperson, reports around 20mm fell at his farm near Timaru. Thanks to the Opuha Water Storage Dam, South Canterbury is showing resilience.
“Contrary to media reports the drought affected areas of the West Coast did not receive a good soaking,” reports Katie Milne, who is also the West Coast provincial president. Rainfall to Tuesday was only 8mm in parts of the Grey Valley, 15mm at Paraoa, Waipuna recorded 20mm, Ahaura 22mm and Inangahua Landing 30mm.
Provincial President Richard Strowger says North Otago received 20-35mm mainly on Sunday. Crops are dry but okay and winter feed crops are fine at this stage he does not anticipate any problems over winter.
At the farm of Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson, David Wilson, 20mm of rain fell. Meanwhile 18mm fell at the farm of Simon McAtamney, Federated Farmers Otago Meat & Fibre chairperson. Other farmers reported between 5-10mm.
Provincial president, Russel MacPherson, reports 5-27mm fell associated with strong coastal winds. There is concern at this stage but hope normal autumnal weather will come within the next two weeks. Unlike many parts of the North Island, twice-daily milking is still common. Sheep farmers will be concerned with pasture cover given mating is fast approaching. Like their colleagues in stone fruit, Southland’s grain farmers are having a very good season.