Government declares support for drought

by Andy Bryenton

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has today classified the drought conditions in Northland as an adverse event for the primary sector, unlocking $80,000 in government support.

“This is a recognition that the extreme and prolonged nature of this dry spell is taking its toll on our farmers and growers, and additional support is needed,” said Minister O’Connor. 

“We know they prepare for dry conditions in January and February, but these areas have been dry since November, on the back of much lower rainfall than normal through the whole of 2019. With little rain forecast for the next couple of weeks — things are getting tough.

The additional funding is for targeted recovery assistance. It helps the Northland Rural Support Trust to facilitate recovery, run events to help get farmers off-farm and reduce isolation, provide education and technical advice for farmers, and provide one-to-one care as needed. It can also give access to social welfare for those in extreme hardship, and increased flexibility with Inland Revenue.

“Despite the challenges, the majority of farmers and growers are coping reasonably well. People are making the hard decisions needed on culling stock, purchasing feed, prioritising crops, and switching to once-a-day milking,” he said. “I encourage farmers to seek support from their local Rural Support Trust, industry groups and rural professionals who can provide information about managing dry conditions.”