Drought support expanded as dry conditions bite along the east coast

The Government will boost its drought support to new parts of the country and continue helping farmers in areas facing long-term dry conditions, says Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor.

An extra $900,000 of funding will be used to help farmers around the country, with the current large-scale adverse event classification expanded to include Mid Canterbury, South Canterbury, and Otago.

“Autumn has got off to an extremely dry start in multiple regions along the east coast of the country. Forecast rainfall is not expected to be enough to allow parched soils and pastures time to recover before winter,” Damien O’Connor said.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been working with industry organisations, councils and Rural Support Trusts to monitor the impacts of the dry conditions and assess the need for additional support.

“This is the second consecutive year of drought for parts of the country and low groundwater levels have not been able to recharge.”

The new funding will ensure feed support services can continue and that extra wellbeing assistance will be available to more farmers affected by drought.

“Recovery and resilience coordinators will be employed to help coordinate support between Rural Support Trusts and industry groups, enabling affected communities to bounce back more quickly.

“I encourage farmers who need help to do a feed budget to get them through winter, to contact the national feed planning service. Alternatively, the feed coordination service can help farmers who need supplementary feed immediately.”

“Support for the Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and Tasman regions, and the Manawatū-Rangitīkei, Tararua and Nelson areas, will remain in place until 30 June 2021, when it will be reviewed.

“The Taranaki region, and the Ruapehu and Whanganui districts, have received good rainfall and soil moisture levels have recovered.”

“It’s encouraging to see conditions have been improving in some areas that were hit hard last year,” said Damien O’Connor.

Feed planning support can be accessed by phoning 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 233 352) or 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 432 479 69). Farmers who need wellbeing support should call their Rural Support Trust on 0800 RURAL HELP or 0800 787 254.