7 Aug 2020

More farmers to be covered by regional drought relief fund

9:57 am on 7 August 2020

The Hawke's Bay Rural Advisory Group has broadened the eligibility criteria of the regional drought relief fund to support more farmers.

A parched paddock in southern Hawkes Bay

Drought in the southern Hawke's Bay. Photo: RNZ/Sally Round

Co-chair Lochie MacGillivray said the fund was set up in response to one of the most complicated and prolonged droughts in living memory and to support the cost of transporting feed to farms.

"We are pleased the criteria has been expanded to assist more farming families who were impacted by the drought. We've increased individual grants and will be able to help those farmers who brought supplementary feed early," MacGillivray said.

"While the meteorological drought is over, it has been a long, and tough few months, and we hope this is seen as a welcome boost."

The group revised the fund criteria after a lower than expected uptake by farmers.

"When we set up the fund in May this year, we wanted to make sure that we could support as many people as possible, and so made the criteria a little tighter than we needed to," said MacGillivray.

Farmers are now eligible for a one off grant of $1000 (up from $400) for properties between 20 and 150 hectares, and $3000 (up from $1350) for properties greater than 150 hectares.

Farmers can also get a back payment for feed bought after 12 March, when the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) declared the drought an adverse event.

In addition, Farmers can claim for funding assistance if they transported stock to properties outside of Hawke's Bay for grazing purposes, and the cost of transport will be covered for farmers who have received donated feed.

The Rural Advisory Group will top up the individual grants of farmers who have already applied for the fund to match the levels under the new criteria, and they will receive notification by email.

There is just over $480,000 remaining in the fund and farmers have until 30 September to apply for a grant.

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