Minister Damien O'Connor monitors dry conditions in fear of drought in regions

By Maja Burry of RNZ

Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor says he's keeping a close eye on dry conditions around the country.

Record low rainfall in Northland has the region on the brink of drought, and some farmers face making a loss as summer feed crops fail.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said there was no significant rainfall on the horizon and the situation was becoming serious.

"Most [farmers] are coping well now, it just depends how long it stays dry for ... Northland has had long droughts that go as far as May," Blackwell said.

"By the end of this month, I think we'll be looking at it quite seriously about declaring this a drought area."

In a statement, O'Connor said he was receiving regular updates from officials at the Ministry for Primary Industries, who had been monitoring conditions around the country over the last few months.

O'Connor said industry groups were reporting that farmers in dry areas are generally prepared and managing so far.

"If [it] reaches a point where the situation is beyond the community's ability to continue farming or growing through it, then I would assess whether declaring an adverse event is warranted. This would trigger government financial assistance for recovery support," he said.