Drought sparks concern for farmers' health

  • 29/12/2017
The Manawatu-Whanganui and Wairarapa regions are also struggling with drought conditions.
The Manawatu-Whanganui and Wairarapa regions are also struggling with drought conditions. Photo credit: file, Getty

A fast-developing drought that is plaguing Taranaki is raising concerns about farmers' mental health as their annual incomes suffer a massive blow.

The Government declared the drought in the central and lower North Island a "medium-scale adverse event" just prior to Christmas, giving farmers access to $160,000 in financial support.

Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntrye said farmers along the South Cost of Taranaki were the worst hit and could lose between 30-50 percent of their annual income.

"That whole area is in a soil moisture deficit. They are going to struggle to feed their cows to milk on - a number of people have already sent their cows to the works."

Mr McIntrye said it was another blow for dairy farmers who were just getting back on their feet after the dairy downturn of the last few years.

The money available to farmers from the Government was available through the rural support trust which would be used to offer community support and put on events for struggling farmers.

"The biggest challenge we face is human health and welfare... supporting farmers through this difficult time so it's a matter of getting them in the right space so they can keep making good decisions," he said.

Mr McIntyre said it was too soon to say what effect the drought would have on the dairy market.

However, it could have flow-on effects for communities with farmers not spending at the local businesses.

The Manawatu-Whanganui and Wairarapa regions are also struggling with drought conditions.

NZN