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Farmers fear drought again - ACT

Friday 15th Oct 1999
Owen Jennings
Media Release -- Other

ACT's rural Heartland Tour has encountered increasing concern among farmers about the early onset of dry conditions in parts of Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Wairarapa, says ACT tour leader Owen Jennings.

Mr Jennings is leading the ACT listening tour around the heartland in order to better represent rural New Zealand after the election.

Over the last four days the tour has come across many farmers fearful of another long drought period over the coming season, Mr Jennings says. "Coupled with this fear is the ongoing effects of a savage attack of facial eczema in many areas, which has had a devastating effect on the stock.

"The falling profitability caused by out of control government-imposed costs are making conditions for many farmers almost impossible. The cyclic weather patterns and problems of animal health are something that farmers are used to coping with. But what they cannot manage are increasing impositions from local and central government that are eroding their profits.

"Standing charges, the result of government-imposed regulatory costs, now exceed 140% of a meat and wool farmer's net income. Twenty years ago these costs were less than 40%.

"I am concerned that another drought year in the vulnerable parts of rural New Zealand may be more than some farming families can cope with. We continue to encounter angry farmers who are desperate for leadership that will improve the circumstances they find themselves in."

Three of ACT's twenty farmer list candidates are accompanying Mr Jennings on the Heartland Tour - former Auckland Federated Farmers President Penny Webster, high country farmer and conservationist Gerry Eckhoff and Cambridge farmer Andy Davies. All three are likely to join Mr Jennings as ACT farmer MPs after the election.

Today the tour moves through Manawatu and Horowhenua. Next week the Heartland Tour will begin in the South Island.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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