Govt announces $500,000 fund to help farmers recover from drought

The Government has announced a new $500,000 fund to help farmers and growers recover from drought.

Some regions have been hard-hit by a lack of rain, with Waikato and Hawke's Bay among the worst.

Many farmers are now running short of feed and are worried about winter supplies.

The situation has been made worse by COVID-19 which has slowed production at meatworks, and meant a backlog of animals on farms.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said the new fund would provide advisory services that usually cost $5000 to equip rural businesses with professional and technical advice to help them recover from and better prepare for future drought.

"As we rebuild the economy following the effects of a global pandemic, we have an opportunity to build back better than before and factor in resilience for our productive primary sector," said O'Connor. 

"So far this year the Government has invested $17 million to help drought-stricken regions recover from what many are saying is the worst drought in living memory. It has affected all of the North Island and a good portion of the South." 

While there has been some recent rain relief recently, it would take steady rain at the right time to get grass growing again, he said.

"The flow-on effects of water shortages and low feed availability take a long time to fully recover from and some farmers will be dealing with the effects of this drought for a year or more."

Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay president Jim Galloway told RNZ this week a feed advisory service set up by the Government was not enough.

"The feed advisory service is just a feed budgeting service," he said.

"It says to farmers they need to buy feed or sell more stock or use nitrogen to get themselves out of the hole."

He said what was needed was real help, such as supplementary feed, which was hard to get hold of.