15 Apr 2010

Farmers warned to prepare for another difficult season

11:34 am on 15 April 2010

Farmers in drought areas of the upper North Island are being warned to prepare for another difficult season next year.

Agriculture Minister David Carter, made a flying visit to North Waikato on Wednesday to meet and talk to farmers.

The area was declared to be in drought last week, along with South Auckland, although Northland has been a drought zone since January.

Mr Carter says there was no feed on any of the paddocks that he saw and farmers need to prepare themselves for a difficult end to the season and going into the next.

He says farmers are resilient and proud people, but the strains are showing.

Mr Carter says they don't tend to ask for help and they don't like hand outs, so it's important to identify any farmers under stress and offer them assistance.

A Waikato Drought Comittee has been formed and farmers are being encouraged to seek help through the Rural Support Trust.

What is needed is at least 100mm of rain very soon, to get the benefit of the last of the warm weather, so farmers can go into winter with at least some grass growth.

Concern for young farmers

North Waikato dairy farmer Malcolm Lumsden says this is the worst drought he has experienced in the 46 years he has been a dairy farmer.

Mr Lumsden says he took steps in January to make sure that he would be able to manage the drought.

But he has grave concerns for young sharemilkers, contract milkers and first-time farmers, who would not have had the experience to prepare early for the drought or to manage it.