Hawke's Bay farmers remain positive despite ongoing dry conditions

A dry hill country farm in Hawke's Bay recently.
A dry hill country farm in Hawke's Bay recently. Photo credit: RNZ

By Maja Burry of RNZ

A recent survey of Hawke's Bay farmers shows most are finding ways to manage the dry conditions gripping the region.

Several areas on the country's east coast are suffering with a second extremely dry year, prompting the Government to unlock some funding support last month.

The Hawke's Bay Rural Support Trust recently called about 30 farmers across the region and reported its findings to the local rural advisory group.

Group co-chair Lochie MacGillivray said meaningful rain and a mild winter was still very much needed, but at the moment farmers felt like they were in an adequate position.

"Last year we had a mild winter and if we get the same again that's what they're thinking, [that] they'll be able to get through," MacGillivray said.

"If we had a hard winter, if we had snow storms, then you know we really need to re-look at where we are going and what's happening."

Generally, stock numbers were a lot lower than this time last year. Some farmers were buying in extra feed or sending stock elsewhere for grazing, MacGillivray said.

"Not many of them have done a formal feed budget, which is you know, for someone like me is a concern, but [using] their own sort of methods, most of them believe they can get through."

The trust was also checking in with small block owners, as some had got themselves into a "a spot of bother" during last year's major drought in the region, MacGillivray said.

"We're running a survey across them, we'll get the results back from that fairly soon I hope."

There were good levels of supplementary feed around, which would help small scale livestock owners, who tended to buy-in quite a bit of feed, he said.

Lifestyle block owners had less flexibility than commercial farmers, as they were often very reluctant to sell or slaughter stock, he said.