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Adverse Event Extension ‘great News’

Federated Farmers leaders are applauding the government’s decision today to extend drought support to Canterbury and Otago.

The medium-scale adverse event classification put in place on March 14 for the Marlborough, Nelson, and Tasman districts now also covers the Canterbury and Otago regions.

"That’s great news," Federated Farmers North Otago president Myfanwy Alexander said.

"There are inland parts of Otago and South Canterbury that have had barely 15mm of rain since January 1 st, and that’s been spread out in dribs and drabs of a few millimetres.

"Basically, if you’re out past Duntroon and you don’t have irrigation touching the ground, your grass is dead," Alexander said.

In areas such as Otematata, Hakataramea, Twizel and out over the Lindis, farmers have de-stocked and some are having to use winter feed to help sustain remain livestock on farm.

"What’s more crops put in the ground for winter feed are stressed under these drought conditions. Yields will be massively back if they’re there at all."

The medium-scale adverse event classification means drought-hit farmers struggling financially will be able to defer tax payments, and enables MSD to consider Rural Assistance Payments. The government has also provided $70,000 to Rural Support Trusts in North, Mid, and South Canterbury and Otago to facilitate community and one-on-one support.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Karl Dean said dryland farmers in inland areas and up into the Hurunui and Cheviot have been impacted.

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"They’re used to farming in dry conditions but it has been challenging. If we don’t get some rain and see that autumn flush, winter and spring will be difficult."

The ability to defer tax is useful, "but that implies the farmers have made some money," Dean said. For many sheep and beef farmers at present, there’s no profit.

Myfanwy Alexander also worries about the flow-on effects of the very dry conditions and de-stocking. Shearers will have less work going forward, for example, and with farmers cutting all but essential spending, local economies will also suffer.


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