13 May 2015

Drought maintains grip in parts of south

7:49 pm on 13 May 2015

The Primary Industries Minister says drought conditions are maintaining a tight grip on eastern parts of the South Island and they are not expected to change until later this year.

    The water supply for the North Bruce Rural Water Scheme is running critically low.

The water supply for the North Bruce Rural Water Scheme is running critically low. Photo: SUPPLIED

Most of the Otago region, all of Canterbury and Marlborough were declared to be in a medium scale adverse event in February this year, and Nathan Guy says the classification is likely to stay in place until August or September.

He said the area of greatest concern was north Canterbury, which had received little of the recent rain.

"What I'm hearing is that by and large farmers have coped very well. We made this declaration on the 12th of February, it was the East Coast of most of the South Island, those areas mainly have had reasonable rain in the last month to six weeks so their own personal situations inside the farm gate have turned around but there is this area in North Canterbury that is a concern.

"We've got Rural Support Trusts that are out there supporting farming families making the tough decisions ahead of them, we've got some flexibility available through the Inland Revenue Department, and for those farmers that are in real hardship they should also reach out to WINZ because there are support packages out there."

Mr Guy said Rural Support Trusts were out in communities and hosting social events too, because it was important for farmers to get off the farm.

He said the trusts could offer support and advice around stock numbers and winter feed.

"Very tough decisions ahead of them, whether to buy more feed in or sell capital stock.

"The concern that I've got right now is we're coming into autumn and winter's not far away and it's very hard to get enough feed reserves to get stock through in reasonable condition this winter."

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