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Drought recovery focuses on feed

Hon Damien O’Connor
Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities

16 February 2018 MEDIA STATEMENT

Rain has brought relief to some drought-affected regions but farmers need to carefully review their feed budgets and plans for winter, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Mr O’Connor has previously announced a medium-scale adverse event, due to dry conditions, for Southland, Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago, Clutha, Grey and Buller districts, Wellington, Taranaki and Manawatu-Whanganui. The Government has provided funding for Rural Support Trusts and agencies to help those farming communities.

Mr O’Connor said while recent rain had helped to green up parts of the country, NIWA’s NZ Drought Index showed soil moisture levels were still lower than normal in Southland, and in the North Island’s coastal areas from Taranaki and the Manawatu southwards.

“I encourage farmers to make the most of Federated Farmers’ feedline at www.fedfarm.org.nz, which is a free service to both members and non-members. Farmers should also talk to their advisers about feed planning options.

“The Rural Support Trusts are doing great work in helping farmers manage the situation and I thank them for it.’’

Mr O’Connor said that in the lower North Island particularly, farmers had been unable to make their usual feed supplements due to a prolonged wet winter, short spring and then drought.

“In Southland where rivers and groundwater levels are getting back to normal thanks to great rainfall recently, there is no question that the number one focus of our farmers is getting enough feed produced for the winter.

“Rural Advisory Groups are active in each drought-affected area, co-ordinating information between Rural Support Trusts, industry and agri-business organisations and government agencies to support farmers with access to resources and information.”

Mr O’Connor said industry groups Dairy NZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand were doing good work helping their members.

He encouraged farmers to talk to their accountants, banks and rural professionals about other forms of managing financially through recovery.

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