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North Island drought preparations stepped up

23 December 2008

North Island drought preparations stepped up

"The recent rain in the Canterbury region has probably brought a month's relief from drought here, but the picture is very different in the North Island," said Frank Brenmuhl, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.

Federated Farmers is not saying the dreaded 'd' word just yet, but is taking the pragmatic step of preparing for a declaration in several regions. The Federation is elevating its drought preparations in the central North Island as well as the East Coast of the North Island.

"Of concern to us are the Waikato, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne-Wairoa provinces. These all have major rain deficits and the next fortnight will be critical. Without rain any feed shortage will only increase pressure. This will impact production at the worst possible time as many are still recovering financially from last year's drought," Mr Brenmuhl said.

"Only yesterday, the Met Service's Bob McDavitt, confirmed the coast between Napier and Gisborne is now the driest part in New Zealand. We understand that Napier is having its driest December since 1914. What's been good for the Cricket Test in Napier has been of concern to farmers.

"The Federation believes it is prudent for farmers in the three worst affected provinces to continue destocking if this is appropriate to their property, source additional feed or look for grazing in less affected areas.

"Those farmers running short of feed are encouraged to act early and speak to their stock agents and farm advisers, just in case drought is declared early in the New Year. I am in almost daily contact with our provincial presidents and while those provinces are not in drought, yet, it is getting pretty close to it.

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"Given last year's drought hit the economy by over $1.2 billion, most farmers want what holiday makers don't, a wet Christmas - New Year period," Mr Brenmuhl concluded.

The role Federated Farmers is preparing for if drought is declared

Federated Farmers will play an important role should drought, in parts of the country, be declared over summer. The Federation will work for members' in a number of areas:

* Monitoring the situation at a local, provincial and national level

* The provision of a number of services from Monday 5 January 2009 if required:

o Reactivation of the "0800 DROUGHT" (0800 376 844) service to coordinate available surplus feed

o Providing member access to internal support services, such as on animal welfare

o Acting as a conduit to external providers, such as the Rural Support Trusts, which the Federation helped establish and

o Providing links to other organisations who publish drought related material useful to farmers.

An emergency only contact number will be made available over the Christmas - New Year holiday period. More information will be posted on www.fedfarm.org.nz should a drought be declared.


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