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West Coast Northland drought declaration a relief

Media Release

26 March 2014

West Coast Northland drought declaration a relief

The adverse event declaration covering drought in Northland’s West Coast the declaration will not provide a lot of direct financial assistance but will provide huge psychological relief.

“New Zealanders will get an inkling of what the guys on Northland’s West Coast have been going through. Not just since November, but since 2012 and even before that,” says Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

"The big thing a declaration triggers is the Northland Rural Support Trust, so any farmer can approach the RST for free advice on farm management, or just someone to have a decent chinwag with.

“Beyond this, it doesn't mean much financially unless the absolute worst happens. There is a safety net, but it is exactly the same as for any other New Zealander and carries the same eligibility rules.

“Then there is Inland Revenue and to be fair to them they aren’t unapproachable.

“If there are farm and non-farm businesses out there who are struggling, I encourage you to get your accountant to talk to them. For all farmers outside of Northland’s West Coast you don’t need an adverse event declaration to call them, just a good reason.

“At this time the Federation really encourages farmers to talk to your bank as well. You need to keep them up to date since they’re the ones bank-rolling your business but of course, whatever you borrow needs to be paid back.

“While autumnal rains will come, winter feed has been used and it’s doubtful if we’ll get pasture covers back to where they ought to be at this time of the season. Speak to your feed merchant and those you have feed contracts with. You need to keep everyone in the loop.

“I am talking to the national office to activate Federated Farmer’s feed line in order to provide an additional back stop.

“The immediate solution is of course rain, but over the medium term, farmers need to start looking at drought resistant pasture.

“In the longer term, drought prone regions like Northland should have water strategies in place because New Zealand doesn’t suffer from a water shortage issue, just a water storage one.

“You can bet we will be focussing on these things at Federated Farmer’s Northland provincial annual meeting on 22 April at Westpac in Whangarei. They’re fairly key to the future of farming here,” Mr Ludbrook concluded.

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