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National Drought Committee working well

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

21 February 2008 Media statement

National Drought Committee working well

Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today that he was encouraged to see the strong spirit of collaboration operating in the National Drought Committee.

“Morale has picked up a bit with the recent rains but there are still difficult times ahead,” Jim Anderton said. “A wide range of sector organisations are represented on the Committee, all with a part to play in helping to make sure that farmers can get through this dry weather in the best possible shape. To achieve that, it’s critical everybody works well together and clearly that is precisely what they are doing.”

Meeting for the first time today in Wellington, the Committee finalised its terms of reference and confirmed the appointment of John Squires ** as the National Drought Coordinator. It will meet again in person on Thursday 13 March.

This morning’s discussions shared information about work already underway. Dairy NZ and Meat & Wool NZ have farmer field days in place, MAF has commissioned a national feed survey, while MSD and IRD have arrangements in place to provide advice and assistance, as required.

The recent rains have seen a greening of the landscape in Canterbury and lessened a little the parched conditions in Otago, but the situation in the North Island has not changed to any significant degree.

“There are some brighter signs,” Jim Anderton said. “I understand that the Federated Farmers 0800 number was getting an even number of calls looking for stock feed and offering stock feed. Now that ratio has shifted − of the 126 calls in the last week, 80 were offering feed.

“However, even where there has been relief from the rain, there is still a lot of stress in the farming community,” Jim Anderton said. “This is particularly so in the sheep and beef sector.

“Rural Support Trusts are getting their community facilitators out and about, talking to people abut how to handle stress, the best ways to handle family and financial pressure, and giving budgeting advice.

“And farmers themselves are taking the tough decisions − reporting back shows there are very few animal welfare issues. And there is optimism,” Jim Anderton said. “I will be seeing the situation for myself over the next three weeks but I hear that most people are expecting that the Autumn rains will come. Of course that is what we would all want. However, with all the work that is now going on, if they don’t, the sector will be better-prepared.

“That is the value of this pro-active approach − Hope for the best. Plan for the worst.“

** John Squires has a wealth of experience working with the rural community. His background includes: scientific liaison officer (with MAF), agricultural consultant (AgNZ), rural bank manger (National Bank), and senior policy analyst (MAF). He was the MAF Policy field representative for the Waiheke FMD hoax.

Jim Anderton’s schedule of visits, the Committee’s Terms of Reference, and membership of the Committee are attached.

ENDS

ww.beehive.govt.nz/anderton www.progressiveparty.org.nz


Jim Anderton

Schedule of Visits to Drought Affected Regions

Wednesday 27 February – Waikato / Hauraki Region
Friday 7 March – Northern Southland Region
Wednesday 12 March – Manawatu Region
Thursday 13 March– Southern Wairarapa Region
Friday 14 March – North Canterbury Region

Committee’s Terms of Reference

Role
To coordinate the activities of all industry, community and government organisations involved in drought preparedness, response and recovery initiatives in drought affected regions.

Objectives
1. Coordinate information and reporting at the local, regional and national level on drought monitoring, prediction and overall feed availability.

2. Assess the overall national impact of the drought, including feed availability, the impact on production, human welfare issues and animal welfare issues.

3. Coordinate the response and recovery activities to ensure there is a consistent and cohesive approach. These activities could include:
- Regional and sectoral technology transfer programmes;
- Government measures such as tax relief and welfare assistance; and
- Local community activities, including activities by the Rural Support Trusts.

4. Provide ongoing monitoring and support for the rural community with regard to feed, the impact on production, human welfare issues and animal welfare issues.

5. Promote drought contingency planning to the rural community and emphasise a proactive, anticipatory approach to drought impact management in the affected regions.
6. Ensure all approaches taken to mitigate the impact of the drought are aligned with the approaches taken to address wider issues around climate change and sustainable land management.

7. Provide regular updates to the Government. These updates would be also be distributed to relevant industry organisations, Rural Support Trusts and local government.

National Drought Committee Members

21 February 10.00am – 12.00pm, Room 17.2, Pastoral House, 25 The Terrace, Wellington


Chair: Phil Journeaux, North Island Regions Manager, MAF Policy
Meeting Attendees:
National Agricultural Recovery Coordinator


DairyNZ


Meat and Wool New Zealand


Federated Farmers


Rural Women


PGG Wrightson


ABB Grains


National Bank


Meat Industry Association

New Zealand Veterinary Association


Ministry for Social Development (Work and Income)


Ministry for Social Development (MSD Policy)


Inland Revenue


MAF BNZ – Animal Welfare


MAF Policy


MAF Comms

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