Ag Minister declares Waikato drought-conditions 'adverse event'

The Agriculture Minister has declared drought conditions in Waikato and South Auckland as an adverse event for the primary sector, unlocking $80,000 in Government support for farmers and growers.

Damien O'Connor said it was recognition that the extreme and prolonged nature of the dry spell was taking its toll on the primary sector and additional support was needed.

"The lack of any substantial rainfall over the past few months means that the drought situation in the region has reached the point where assistance is needed to help the rural community get through.

"This unlocks initial extra funding of $80,000 for the Waikato, Hauraki-Coromandel Rural Support Trust to help speed up the recovery of farming and horticultural businesses," said O'Connor.

The Waikato, Hauraki-Coromandel Rural Support Trust region includes South Auckland (Manukau and Papakura) Hamilton, Hauraki, Matamata-Piako, Ōtorohanga, South Waikato, Taupo, Thames-Coromandel, Waikato, Waipa, and Waitomo

"Farmers in Waikato are no strangers to dry summers and they have had good grass silage on hand to date but the longer they go without rain, the harder it becomes to carry on as usual."

The announcement follows adverse event classifications in Northland and North Auckland earlier this month where $80,000 was allocated to the Rural Support Trust to support affected farmers.

Damien O'Connor said the dry spell was taking its toll on the primary sector.
Damien O'Connor said the dry spell was taking its toll on the primary sector. Photo credit: Newshub

"I'm continuing to keep a close eye on conditions in Northland as well as many other parts of the country, in case more help is required. The Government is committed to doing all we can to support farmers and growers at what is a very challenging time."

The $80,000 will bolster recovery activities in affected rural areas including:

·  local groups such as the Rural Support Trusts and industry organisations running information sessions, technical transfer activities, and other community events to help support farmers and growers;

· one-to-one and group support from the Rural Support Trust; and

· coordination of help, resources and information for recovery.

O'Connor said it was important that farmers asked for help if they needed it.

 "I encourage farmers to seek professional advice from Rural Support Trusts, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ who can provide information about managing dry conditions."

Many parts of Waikato have not seen any substantial rain since December.

Farmer Peter Le Heron's told RNZ that paddocks on his farm near Morrinsville were parched and crispy brown.

''We are going backwards just because we have no grass at all and the grass is a brown to silvery colour and where there has been a little bit of an overflow from a water trough which obviously was a leak, there is a little bit of green grass.

"We were really getting very close to wilting point at the end of November which is quite serious and with no rain going forward we are just dry as a bone,'' said Le Heron.