Assistance For Hawke's Bay Farmers

  • Dr Lockwood Smith

The Government will provide an initial $84,200 to assist the drought relief efforts of Hawke's Bay farmers and horticulturalists, Agriculture Minister Lockwood Smith announced today.

Dr Smith will also consult with Social Welfare Minister Roger Sowry on whether to recommend to Cabinet that it extend the Rural Sector Assistance Programme to Hawke's Bay. The Government announced the criteria for this programme on 1 April, when it made it available to farmers in Marlborough and North Canterbury.

The $84,200 in funding announced today is below that sought by Federated Farmers for drought relief efforts in the Hawke's Bay but is more per week than that provided to Marlborough and North Canterbury. The level of funding will be reviewed in June, as the Government recognises that the lateness of the drought may make wintering capital stock particularly difficult and costly in the Hawke's Bay.

The $84,200 will be used to help fund the local drought relief office ($35,700), purchase technical and counselling services ($28,500) and provide donations to the Federated Farmers community trust ($15,000) and the East Coast Rural Support Trust ($5,000).

In addition, MAF has other initiatives planned to assist horticulturalists to work through the drought.

"Like the assistance provided to Marlborough and North Canterbury, the Government's funding is designed to help farmers coordinate and manage their response to the drought, protect animal welfare and support families dealing with the incredible stress that the drought has caused," Dr Smith said. "It is not a handout to business."

Dr Smith also commended the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the Hastings, Wairoa and Central Hawke's Bay district councils for their support or pledges of support for the drought relief effort.

Today's announcement brings the Government's direct expenditure on drought assistance this year to $254,700. In addition, the cost of the Rural Sector Assistance programme in Marlborough and North Canterbury alone is expected to be $690,000, and the army has also incurred costs. Dr Smith is expected to receive a request for assistance from Wairarapa/Tararua farmers shortly.