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Classification Brings Relief For Farmers In Drought

The Waikato Primary Industries Adverse Event Cluster, made up of Waikato and South Auckland agricultural industry representatives, is pleased Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has heeded its call to classify the impacts of drought as an adverse event.

At a meeting today, the group decided it was likely that some farmers and communities were in need of additional support, as when did rain it would take some time for things to return to normal.

Group chairman and Ohinewai farmer Neil Bateup said the “very, very dry conditions” were putting stress on the farming sector.

“Farmers have done a very good job of managing the dry conditions so far this year, and while we heard today that generally farmers were being quite positive, some people will be struggling,” said Mr Bateup.

“There is some food for stock, but the reserves are being chewed into very fast. And there some crunch times are coming, meaning hard decision will have to be made by farmers. It’s about putting measures in place to support those people who may need help.”

The announcement by the minister follows a drought classification in North Auckland and Northland earlier this month.

The classification unlocks extra funding of an initial $80,000 for the Waikato, Hauraki-Coromandel Rural Support Trust to help speed up the recovery of farming and horticultural businesses, such as one on one support for farmers.

It also opens up some recovery measures through Inland Revenue.

“We are also appealing to the banks to consider the pressures from the drought when approached for financial flexibility to get extra feed,” said Mr Bateup.

The cluster convened today to review conditions and how farmers were coping. They spoke about farmers needing to buy supplementary food for stock, offloading capital stock and starting to dry off cows early, and how that also had repercussions for contractors and share milkers.

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said there were a number of stressors affecting farmers at the moment.

“We’re looking to get the best result for our farmers and local communities.”

Auckland Federated Farmers president Alan Cole said many farmers were already two thirds of the way through the supplements they had planned for winter.

“These recovery measures will help those who are less prepared, who haven’t experienced past drought, to seek guidance.”

Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll told the group that Hamilton, Auckland and Whitianga were heading towards the driest summer on record, and soil moisture deficit levels were at 130mm across much of the region.

“There is a chance of beneficial rainfall on Wednesday and Thursday but it won’t be drought breaking. It takes a bit of time for that to happen, especially with the soil moisture levels being what they are.”

Waikato Regional Council senior scientist Bevan Jenkins said the majority of the river flow recorders across the region showed record low flows. “Most water takes are on restrictions.”

Contact numbers and resources for farmers:

www.rural-support.org.nz or 0800 787 254

www.dairynz.co.nz/feed/seasonal-management/summer-management

www.beeflambnz.com

www.mpi.govt.nz

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