Weekend rain little respite for drought-stricken farmers

Brief weekend rain has done little to ease headaches for farmers struggling with drought-like conditions.

A front which moved over New Zealand on the weekend provided some rain for parched regions.

However Met Service said more rain was needed and there were little signs of any significant rain this week for the places that wanted it most.

It was forecasting a mainly dry start to the week, with mostly settled conditions.

"Some parts of the North Island may see a few showers, but not the kind of rain that is needed," said MetService meteorologist Stephen Glassey.

A ridge of high pressure was forecast over the country for the first half of this week, keeping most potential rainmakers at bay, although Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, and parts of the lower South Island were likely to see a few showers.

Meanwhile Northland Federated Farmers' Louise Giltrap told Rural Today that the lack of rain was leaving farmers in a desperate situation.

Some farmers have been culling stock suffering in the conditions, and water and feed reserves were running low.

She said normally farmers would be looking at making hay at the moment, however they were fast using up surplus feed for stock.

"People have got about two weeks of surplus feed ahead for cows, but there is no grass and you can only go so long with supplements," said Giltrap.

"Without green feed going forward you can only sustain milking them and keeping them in the right body condition for so long with supplementary feed before you have to think of drying them off, and that's what's happening now."

"The drying off equals dairy cheques slowing down, and that's going to have a domino effect on the dairy industry, first and foremost."

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor recently classified the drought conditions in Northland as an adverse event for the primary sector, unlocking $80,000 in Government support.

"This is recognition that the extreme and prolonged nature of this dry spell is taking its toll on our farmers and growers and additional support is needed," said O'Connor.

Lack of rain was also affecting farmers in other parts of the country including Auckland, Waikato and parts of Canterbury.