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Regional Council Pledges $200k To Mayoral Drought Fund

Hawke’s Bay Regional councillors have voted unanimously to contribute $200,000 to the Mayoral Drought Relief Fund to help fund the transport of feed to distressed farmers.

Hastings District Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst, Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor, and Regional Council Chair Rex Graham

The mayoral fund sits at $800,000 following contributions from central Government ($500,000), Central Hawke’s Bay District Council ($50,000) and Centralines ($50,000) in the past week. Tomorrow Hastings District Council meet to consider a $200,000 pledge, to bring the fund to $1 million.

Chair Rex Graham says the fact the fund has raised $800,000 in a week reflects the strong community support for our farming sector.

“Our farmers have been hit with Covid-19, TB, the implications of new environmental regulations that are the toughest in New Zealand, and now a very serious drought. It’s been a perfect storm for many of them.”

The farming community has been the mainstay of the economy for years and it is time for the wider community to help as many of them as possible to get through this difficult period and towards a more favourable farming cycle, he said.

“I see this as an investment in our economy. We are going to need these farmers more than ever as the economic downturn really bites in to 2021.”

The aim is to create a $2 million relief fund using the central and local Government funding, and other funding options.

There is a significant, and critical lack of feed, compounded by the fact that much of the North Island has been impacted by drought. Feed is available in some South Island locations, but the transport costs are considerable.

The funding will be used to transport feed to the region, likely to be bulk feed from Timaru and Lyttelton directly to the Napier Port for road transport to the farm, or rail if more effective.

The Rural Advisory Group (RAG) are leading the drought response, with strong support from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, Hastings District Council and Civil Defence Emergency Management.

The RAG will administer the fund, and make the decisions around how best to support the rural community.

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