Hawke's Bay farmer drought fund set for $200,000 underspend

A mayoral fund to help Hawke's Bay farmers cope with one of the worst droughts ever will likely be underspent.

The fund has raised more than $1 million but might have up to $200,000 left over.

This was despite the original target being $2m.

The money was raised from local and central government, plus a Givealittle page.

Money goes towards transporting stock feed to the region.

Hawke's Bay Rural Advisory Group co-chair Lochie MacGillivray said there had been a good response in Napier and Hastings, but less so in Central Hawke's Bay.

He said this could be because there was more awareness around the twin cities.

In addition, people were busy, there had been internet frustration, and some farmers depopulated stock early so there was less need for feed, he said.

MacGillivray told a Hawke's Bay Regional Council committee yesterday about 520 farmers and lifestyle block owners had received the funds to date.

About $670,000 had been distributed.

"To us our thinking is that we've had 13 major droughts since 1900, four of the worst have been in the last 20 years. We're going to get an acerbating amount of droughts come through. We've had a doubling in the frequency in the last 20 years, that could double again."

MacGillivray suggested the remainder of the money could go towards building resilience into farm plans or drought relief in the future.

The regional council gave the fund $200,000. The corporate and strategic committee wanted a report to come to the council on how the underspend could be used.