Business Scoop
Network

Waikato joins Northland in double drought

Press Release – Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers has welcomed the Government’s declaration of a medium scale adverse event across the Waikato region and Ruapehu District. As with Northland, Waikato has now had two consecutive dry springs and is now in the grip of a double drought.15 December 2010

Waikato joins Northland in double drought

Federated Farmers has welcomed the Government’s declaration of a medium scale adverse event across the Waikato region and Ruapehu District. As with Northland, Waikato has now had two consecutive dry springs and is now in the grip of a double drought.

“We saw this coming after Northland was declared a drought zone last week,” says Stew Wadey, Federated Famers Waikato provincial president.

“I have been in regular contact with David Carter and as always the Federated Farmers 0800 DROUGHT line (0800 376 844) is in action to support any farmers feeling the pinch. We hope to get some rain early in the new year, but it’s too early for us to make any calls.

“We welcome the Government’s support measures, but it’s important for the public to understand what these are. There seems to be a public perception that a declaration of drought means government hand-outs – that’s absolutely not true.

“There is no direct financial support to farmers because of this drought declaration. It bothers me when I see letters to the editor making this false point.

“The only way a farmer will qualify for welfare is if they were already eligible for welfare payments. It’s means tested, same as any other WINZ payment, and a drought declaration makes no difference to this criteria.

“There are around 30,000 working farmers nationwide, and less than 100 are actually receiving support. But the facts of life are that with two consecutive droughts some farmers can’t survive.

“This adverse event declaration also gives us access to advisory services that are extremely beneficial for us. That’s not just farm management advice, but also counseling services and Rural Assistance Payments.

“RAPs basically advise and assist extremely marginal farmers who need to exit the business. It’s similar to a small business manager being appointed by a Ministry of Economic Development body to a struggling company in the city.

“The drought declaration also allows Inland Revenue to give farmers the ability to file accounts later, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

“But what I think we need to do now is work with the councils and Government on water storage options to help reduce the risk of drought in the future. You can never be too prepared.

“Basically, pasture needs three things: water, sunshine hours and decent soil temperatures.

“Rather than riding the rollercoaster trying to guess what each next season will bring, we can control these conditions much more readily with a reliable and steady supply of water.

“Remember, In the 2009/10 drought we didn’t strike this dry point until mid-January, but this year’s long dry spring as a result of La Niña means the dry has come a month earlier.

“The damage may have already been done, even if rain does fall early in 2011, it won’t produce much more than a light surface layer of grass – a ‘green drought’ – which is not sustainable pasture.

“Farmers will now be looking at drying off earlier, culling cattle and reducing their projections for the season. Federated Farmers will be offering support wherever we can,” Mr Wadey concluded.

ENDS

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
Original url