Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Govt closely watching dry conditions

Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities

20 December 2017 MEDIA STATEMENT
Govt closely watching dry conditions

Farmers and growers in very dry regions around the country are urged to make plans to get through a summer that has turned hot and dry sooner than usual.

Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor said today that the latest information from NIWA and industry bodies makes it clear that while farmers are generally coping through this early dry spell, rain over the next few weeks cannot be relied upon.

“It could go either way,” says Mr O’Connor.

“It is still early in the summer and a few good rainfalls could change the picture. On the other hand – patchy rain not hitting the right spots could mean the situation becomes more serious.”

Areas of concern are coastal areas from Taranaki southwards, and the rest of the lower North Island below a line from Mangamahu, Hunterville and Apiti. On the other side of the ranges, Tararua and parts of Wairarapa are also under pressure. Parts of the South Island are also showing as increasingly dry.
“We are getting the best weather forecasting available and clear daily information about the level of dryness across the country from NIWA’s NZ Drought Index, but there’s no crystal ball.”
“Our farmers know that while hoping for the best, they need to plan for the worst.”

This dry spell is up to two months earlier than usual, and farmers would usually be in a better position to make plans about scaling down operations to get through.

“It’s early but experience and evidence shows that our farmers who make and stick to a plan to manage through drought are the ones who come out the other side in a better position to recover and move forward,” says Mr O’Connor. “It takes courage to make these difficult choices.”

“We know that these conditions can cause a lot of stress, compounded by the winter and spring conditions, and low morale. Our Rural Support Trusts are on the ground for us and keeping information flowing. Industry bodies are working with MPI and making sure our farmers have the technical knowledge to make their decisions.”

Mr O’Connor says that in the worst-case scenario, criteria for a medium-scale event could be met as early as January. A medium-scale event classification is based not just on soil moisture, but also on a rural community’s capacity to cope. It triggers additional Government recovery assistance measures such as further funding for Rural Support Trusts to provide events, technical transfer, and Rural Assistance Payments in rare cases of extreme hardship.

In the meantime, Government help is available as to all New Zealanders who face financial difficulty, such as Work and Income support should there be a significant change in family income.
“I know the festive season is as busy as any other on the farm and wish our farmers and growers a Merry Christmas,” says Mr O’Connor.

Questions and answers
What is NIWA’s outlook?
Dr Andrew Tait of NIWA says the lack of rain is being exacerbated by extremely warm sea surfaces around New Zealand, driving high air temperatures and leading to very high rates of evapotranspiration – up to 5mm or 6mm a day in some locations. This means any benefits of a rainy day can quickly disappear, and significant rainfall will be needed to get back to a normal summer situation.
How is the Ministry for Primary Industries monitoring the situation?
MPI is monitoring conditions daily at both a regional and national level. For example, the Manawatu-Whanganui (Horizons Region) Rural Coordination Group – Rural Support Trusts, Ministry for Primary Industries, Civil Defence Emergency Management and representatives from Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, and Fonterra – met yesterday to identify the status and required planning.
Where can farmers go for support?
Farmers are encouraged to use all information available from NIWA, government and industry bodies, and to use their Rural Support Trusts if they have concerns about the wellbeing of any family member, friend, worker or neighbour.
• Call 0800 RURAL HELP (0800 787 254) or visit www.rural-support.org.nz.
NIWA hotspot watch and drought monitor
B+LNZ extreme dry management
DairyNZ summer management
Tiller Talk focus on dry strategies by farmers


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Malaysia Exposing Our Dodgy Policies On China

Last week, we all owed a vote of thanks to Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad for breaking with protocol during his bilateral meeting in Singapore with New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern. Reportedly, Mahathir used the photo opportunity phase of the meeting – which usually involves just an exchange of smiles and pleasantries before the media is sent out of the room – to launch into matters of genuine substance.

By doing so, Mahathir usefully exposed how New Zealand is trying to make a virtue out of sitting on the fence over the South China Sea dispute. More>>

 

Health: Changes To Drinking Water Standards

David Clark said many of the changes he is making, which will take effect on 1 March 2019, are clarifications or corrections, “but there are two changes which will significantly improve the ability to test and respond to the presence of harmful bacteria such as E.coli”. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA: Police Detention "Unlawful But Reasonable"

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that while Police acted unlawfully in October 2017 when they detained a Queenstown man for a mental health assessment, their actions were reasonable in the circumstances. More>>

ALSO:

Joint Statement: Chile President's NZ Visit

At the invitation of the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, undertook a State Visit to New Zealand on 19 November 2018... More>>

ALSO:

Climate Change: Top Academics Call On Government To Take Action

One hundred and fifty academics and researchers from around Aotearoa, including Dame Anne Salmond, Emeriti Professors and several Fellows of the Royal Society, have signed a strongly-worded open letter to the Government demanding bold and urgent action to tackle climate change. More>>

ALSO:

Teacher Qualifications, Class Sizes: Ten Year Plan For Early Learning

“Moving towards 100 percent qualified teachers in early childhood education centres and improving adult:child ratios are among some of the key proposals for change put forward by the sector and experts in the new draft ten year strategic plan for early learning,” Chris Hipkins said. More>>

ALSO:

Teacher Strikes: Meeting, March And Rally In Wellington

Throughout the Wellington region the NZEI rolling strikes entered their final day Friday. Thousands of teachers met in Wellington, Kapiti, Porirua and the Wairarapa. More>>

ALSO:

14/11: Two Years’ Progress Since The Kaikoura Earthquake

Mayor John Leggett said it was a day for reflection, but also a time to recognise the work by many people to support progress towards recovery made across Marlborough since November 2016. More>>

ALSO:

Pike River: Mine Drift Re-Entry Plan To Proceed

“I’ve decided the Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau Mā Iwa - Pike River Recovery Agency, recommended course of action to enter the drift, using the existing access tunnel, is by far the safest option,” said Andrew Little. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels