15 Mar 2013

Minister set to declare more regions in state of drought

5:59 am on 15 March 2013

The Minister for Primary Industries will make a call on Friday morning on whether to officially declare more North Island regions to be in a state of drought.

The East Coast, Wairarapa, Taranaki, Manawatu and Whanganui regions have all requested a declaration to mobilise central government support for their struggling farmers.

Nathan Guy will make an announcement at 10am at a farm just north of Fielding.

Meanwhile, farming, dairy company, local body and ministry representatives on the South Island's West Coast will be meeting on Friday morning to assess the drought conditions rapidly taking hold in what's normally one of the wettest parts of the country.

West Coast Rural Support Trust chairperson Dianne Milne says she is expecting the meeting to follow North Island regions in seeking a drought declaration because there's been no rain there for more than a month, which is drastic for the West Coast.

She says she's spoken to farmers who have been in the region for more than 60 years who say they have never seen anything like it.

Ms Milne says any rain forecast for the weekend that does come is not likely to make too much difference because it's so late in the season.

"There's a lot of areas that have actually totally lost their grass, and some that's been recently sown will be definitely destroyed, so that will all have to be redone before any grass will grow again, even if we get rain and also the worry that it'll get cold down this end of the country."

Ms Milne says it's ironic that the West Coast Rural Support Trust was set up 15 years ago to help people deal with the opposite type of adverse event.

She says at that time they had had almost 13 months of non-stop rain.