10 Apr 2010

Drought zone extended in upper North Island

4:26 pm on 10 April 2010

The Government is offering assistance to farmers in four North Island regions declared medium-level drought zones.

Farmers in Waikato, Rodney, Papakura and Manukau can apply for help including tax assistance, management advice, welfare support and funding for rural support trusts.

Drought was formally declared in Northland in January this year. Conditions are also being monitored in lower South Canterbury and Otago, which may also be declared a drought zone if they get much worse.

Without adequate rain, it is likely that farmers will be facing feed shortages going into winter.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the Government is extremely concerned about the effect of the drought on the rural economy. The situation is grim, he says, with no immediate relief in sight.

Mr Carter plans to visit Waikato next Wednesday.

Still feeling effects of 2008 drought

Waikato Federated Farmers president Stew Wadey says farmers are not looking for a handout, but do need support dealing with the drought.

He told Checkpoint many farmers will need some form of financial assistance to help them get through the coming months.

Mr Wadey says the Government will put funding into Rural Support Trusts, which will manage the applications from farming families who are having cashflow problems and enable them to buy extra stock feed.

Mr Wadey says the area is still feeling the effects of the 2008 drought and the land is always slow to recover. The worst-affected areas are North Waikato and the Hauraki Plains.