Extremely dry conditions in South Auckland and Waikato have prompted the Ministry for Primary Industries to classify the region as a drought.
The declaration as a medium-scale adverse event will enable a package of support for farmers and growers.
MPI’s director of rural communities and farming support Nick Story says it was recognition that a severe dry spell over the autumn months is taking its toll on the region’s primary sector and additional support is needed.
“The lack of any consistent rainfall since the beginning of the year means dry conditions in the region have reached the point where assistance is needed to help the rural community get through,” Story said.
“Farmers in these districts have been closely monitoring the situation and making early decisions about stock levels, culling and buying in feed, but the lack of rain is starting to have an impact as winter looms.”
The adverse event classification was made by the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor following a request from primary sector organisations in the region.
This decision unlocks a package of support, including tax flexibility with Inland Revenue, and the Waikato, Hauraki-Coromandel Rural Support Trust will receive extra funding of $30,000 to run events to connect people and provide mentoring support.
The national Feed Co-ordination Service is available for farmers if they are struggling to find sources of supplementary feed.
“This free service matches farmers with surplus feed to those that need it. If you live in a neighbouring area and have spare feed, listing with the service will help those caught short”Nick Story
Ministry for Primary Industries
“This free service matches farmers with surplus feed to those that need it. If you live in a neighbouring area and have spare feed, listing with the service will help those caught short,” he said.
Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn says the classification will allow tax equalisation for sharemilkers and contract milkers who may have pasture cover targets in their contracts with the farm owner.
There was concern they would not be able to meet that target because of the drought and would be left with a large financial bill.
“Now that the drought’s acknowledged, they both have to work together,” Hahn says.
The announcement follows a medium-scale adverse event classification for drought conditions in Southland and parts of Otago in March where $100,000 was allocated to the Rural Support Trusts to support affected farmers.