19 Apr 2021

Farmers struggling to access water for stock

12:00 pm on 19 April 2021

Dry conditions around the country are causing issues with stock drinking water supplies and crop production a new survey has found.

Canterbury region farms

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Nearly 550 farmers responded to Federated Farmers 2021 Drought Survey over the last couple of weeks, painting a picture of conditions.

The survey found with little to no rain farmers are struggling to access water for their stock as dams waterways and aquifers are either substantially lower than normal or completely dry.

Respondents also highlighted issues with authority operated schemes not able to monitor those who are taking too much water from urban development, causing those down the scheme to have too little.

Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis said they're looking at arranging bulk buy deals for those who need to purchase water.

"When rain is low there's not a lot you can do apart from truck water in which can get expensive, so yeah it's frustrating because at the end of the day it's more cost especially in a year when you've probably not had good production."

He said many farmers have started to feed out early raising concerns some will run out before winter hits, but the survey did find that most have the capacity to purchase additional feed if needed.

"Some areas like Taranaki are having a great year, they've had a lot of rainfall and are growing a lot of grass but then other areas like Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago and Gisborne are really dry - so it's a mixed bag."

Overall crop production is behind in most regions of the country - all respondents from Marlborough one of the worst hit areas said they are behind on crop targets.

"I'm in the Waikato and despite having a second dry year in a row our crop production is up so some of the problems highlighted are very localised - it's the luck of the draw really," Lewis said.

"We'll pass on the survey findings to The Ministry of Primary Industries and the minister so they have a good understanding of what things are like," he said.

"At the moment we're focused on wrapping around support for those who need it and making sure farmers are in touch with consultants and aware of the help avalible to them."

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Photo: Federated Farmers of New Zealand

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