Government unlocks funding for farmers as La Niña looms over summer

Government unlocks funding for farmers as La Niña looms over summer
Photo credit: File

By Riley Kennedy of RNZ

The government has unlocked funding to support farmers ahead of an upcoming La Nina season.

Funding worth $350,000 has been allocated by the Rural Communities Minister Damien O'Connor for feed support services and new animal welfare coordinators.

Earlier this year, a drought was declared for the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chathams.

"That declaration unlocked government funding to support farmers and growers. Forecasters are now predicting more trying weather conditions this summer," O'Connor said.

Niwa has confirmed La Niña could mean below-average rainfall for the South Island and lower North Island and possible flooding in northern parts of the country.

O'Connor encouraged farmers to use the services to help give them piece of mind heading into summer.

"Many farmers and growers have experienced the effects of severe weather events before and have been proactively preparing by planning alternative sources of feed or starting to destock."

The services are funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries and will be delivered by industry groups such as Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers.

They help farmers complete a feed plan and connect farmers who are short of feed with available sources of supplement, such as silage and hay.

Beef and lamb's South Island general manager John Ladley is encouraging farmers to consider putting plans in place to ensure livestock are well cared for.

"These include carrying out a simple feed budget, early weaning of lambs, body condition scoring ewes, setting trigger dates for identified management actions and securing supplies of supplementary feed or off-farm grazing," Ladley said.

As well as the feed support, seven new regional animal welfare emergency coordinators and two national animal welfare emergency coordinators have been employed at MPI and six new Rural Communities and Farming Support advisers are being recruited in Northland, Taupo, Wairarapa, Manawatū, the West Coast and Southland.

O'Connor said the country's 14 Rural Support Trusts, which received extra funding earlier this year to help regions recover from drought and Covid-19, continue to support farmer wellbeing and help build resilience in rural communities.