18 Jun 2020

Drought hit farmers get extra $3 million boost

1:50 pm on 18 June 2020

The government is to put an extra $3 million into a fund to help drought hit farmers and growers access professional advice.

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Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The Drought Recovery Advice Fund fund was launched last month in response to extremely dry conditions in large parts of the country.

Initially just $500,000 was set aside, but the Agriculture Minister said there has been an overwhelming response from farmers, with around 1000 applications.

"This extra funding means we're able to provide critical support to far more farmers and growers with quality professional advice to help them recover from this drought, and better prepare their farm businesses for any similar events in future."

O'Connor said while the fund was designed to address longer-term issues, it had also put in place four feed co-ordinators to help farmers who were currently dealing with acute feed shortages.

"There are co-ordinators on the ground, there are people helping through the Rural Support Trust and hopefully all those farmers will be able to feed their stock.... but it will put them in a challenging position and hopefully this [fund] will help them plan ahead."

The national chair of the Rural Support Trust Neil Bateup welcomed the extra support, which he said would help farmers look at their farming systems and find ways to better manage drought events.

He says given the magnitude of this drought, it was not surprising to see so many applications.

"I'm not surprised because of the pressure on some quite big areas of New Zealand, obviously Waikato, Northland, Hawke's Bay are the worst affected but there are other areas as well."

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