Stress builds for Waikato farmers as land continues to dry out

Waikato's agricultural industry representatives have stepped up the frequency of their meetings to allow them to better monitor and respond to ongoing very dry conditions in the region.

The Waikato Primary Industry Adverse Event Cluster core group convened on Monday to collectively review conditions and how farmers are coping.

The group has now decided to meet weekly to enable its members to keep a closer eye on conditions and respond quickly to address the needs of Waikato's farmers.

While scattered showers are forecast for some parts of the region over the coming days, the rain is unlikely at this stage to be enough to raise low soil moisture levels to promote pasture growth.

"As farmers we are all well aware that we are in the midst of a drought-like situation and while acknowledging the situation may highlight the issue to the greater public, it won't change how farmers manage their businesses at this time," said Federated Farmers Waikato president and group spokesperson Andrew McGiven.

"However, conditions are now quickly becoming more acute, with the dry season dragging on into March and potentially April, and that will be causing many farmers extreme concern having to feed out supplements that ideally would be conserved for winter," he said. 

"These feed reserves are now starting to disappear rapidly."

"The situation could also be amplified if a cold snap and frosts appear suddenly that will further impede any substantial pasture growth," said McGiven.

He said the wider community needs to be aware that some farmers may be really starting to struggle.

"We urge farmers to be proactive with their planning and to put up a hand when help is needed. There are a number of places people can turn to for information, advice and support."

McGiven said the group does not consider farmers require access to additional recovery measures provided by a medium-scale event classification at present, as they continue to make good decisions to manage through the dry conditions and begin setting up their farms for winter.

The core group includes representatives of Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Rural Support Trust, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Rural Women New Zealand, Beef + Lamb and Horticulture NZ.

Contact numbers and resources for farmers: